Venezuala's new Education Law spawns protests

Posted Aug 23, 2009 by Stephanie Dearing
It was a red and white protest yesterday in Venezuela's capital city, Caracas. Thousands protesting Hugo Chavez's new education law mostly wore white while supporters of the President wore red.
The thousands of protesters were restricted to a limited route, and when they fought against that, breaking down a barrier erected to keep them contained, they were fired on by police with tear gas, rubber bullets and water canons. Dozens of people were reported to have been treated for minor injuries. Protesting lawyer, 43 year old Miguel Rivero told press, "It's totally unjust. This repression is totally unnecessary."
The protesters say that the new law will "indoctrinate their children to socialism." Supporters of the law say that the law ensures that education is available to everyone. The government says it has removed religion from education and given itself more control over the education system. The Venezuelan Catholic Church has also lent its voice to that of the protesters.
The head of Venezuela's Catholic Church, Cardenal Jorge Urosa Savino said "God was important for Venezuela” and that the constitution gave parents the right for their children to receive a religious education of their own choice if that was what was wished. Savino said that Venezuela’s population is 98 percent Catholic.
Thousands of supporters were reported to have held a march yesterday.
The law was passed last week, and according to analysts, parts of the law are vague. The law is said to require schools to teach the "Bolivarian Doctrine." This Doctrine is the basis for Chavez's governmental reforms, and is based on the revolutionary principles espoused by the country's 19th century independence hero, Simon Bolivar. Called The Liberator (El Liberator), Bolivar fought against the Spanish, gaining independence for many South American countries, including Venezuela.
The law will be in effect when students return to school in a week. The last time Chavez tried to introduce new education legislation, he was almost unseated by a coup attempt after huge protests from the public in 2002.
After participating in a failed coup, for which he was jailed, Chavez was legally elected as President in 1994.