VIO News Blog

November 19, 2008

Venezuela and England Cooperate in “Connecting Classrooms” Program

A new program called “Connecting Classrooms” lets teachers in England learn from the successes of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian” public education system, according to the BBC. One teacher calls the schools in poor areas “oases of calm and order where children are able to get that one life opportunity to get an education.” Another London-based teacher said: “Where [the Bolivarian schools] are very strong is in the area of values, in instilling in their pupils the belief that when they grow up they must be better citizens… and a better future will mean that the population in general is at less risk of crime and of criminality.”

An AP article today repeats unfounded claims by opposition politicians that they are being “intimidated” ahead of regional elections. Opposition Governor Manuel Rosales of Zulia state faces actual legal proceedings for the misuse of public funds, and has a hearing set for next week. The AP also cites data from the biased polling firm Datanalisis, whose director has publicly called for the assassination of the president. Meanwhile, statements by President Chavez are presented with insufficient context; national law prohibits the media from giving voting results too early, and Chavez once mentioned that he could perhaps use tanks to prevent another violent coup  — not simply if opposition candidates are elected on Sunday.

The President of Vietnam is currently visiting Venezuela on his way to the Asia-Pacific summit in Peru. According to the AFP, the Vietnamese leader will meet President Chavez tomorrow to discuss energy cooperation. Reuters reports that Cuban President Raul Castro may visit Venezuela in the next few days.

The Russia-Venezuela relationship is misrepresented in a Washington Times op-ed today that claims joint naval exercises between the countries are evidence that Russia is “prepared to intrude in the U.S. backyard.” Russian leaders emphasize that the exercises do not involve any third country. Venezuela, for its part, has not “sown instability” in the region, as the op-ed states. Instead, it has been at the forefront of cooperation initiatives such as UNASUR — the Union of South American Nations (wrongly identified in the op-ed as the “South American Cooperation Council”). The op-ed also conveniently avoids reference to the recent re-deployment of the 4th Fleet of the U.S. Navy in Latin America, which had been disbanded in 1950.

Finally, the Christian Science Monitor reports that the new Latinobarometro poll suggests more in the region are identifying as politically “moderate.” In Venezuela, rates of support for democracy are higher than in any other country except Uruguay. The Monitor links this to the defeat of constitutional reforms in a referendum last December, considered a “loss” for President Chavez. However, Venezuela has for years led the region in favoring democracy and had high rates of satisfaction with the state of democracy.

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