quinta-feira, setembro 10, 2009

514) Chavez e a desconstrucao da Venezuela

Venezuela’s Polarized Society Split by Another Issue: Chávez’s Robust Educational Reform Roils the Political Waters
Brian Thompson, Research Associate to the
Cpuncil of Hemispheric Affairs - COHA
10 September 2009

On August 6, the Venezuelan legislature passed the controversial Organic Law of Education, in the face of walkouts by opposition senators and widespread street demonstrations. The fiercely contested law provides the government with a stronger role in developing and streamlining the Venezuelan admittedly dysfunctional public education. However, the law ended up further polarizing an already deeply divided society, with some opposition figures claiming that the new legislation is merely an attempt to flesh out and consolidate the Bolivarian Revolution through ideological catechism. Dissenters vowed to openly defy the law, which prompted President Hugo Chávez to respond that the law would be carried out despite the opposition’s rancorous objections.

The State as Educator
Since Chávez’s first years in office, education reform has been an issue that has caused deep divisions between the Chávez regime and the middle class opposition. In 2000, parents first began to protest over what they claimed were Cuban textbooks being introduced into Venezuelan schools. This represented one of the first organized demonstrations against the Chávez administration that served to underscore a deep-seated class-based fear within the Venezuelan Right, namely that Chávez would attempt to infuse the school curriculum with the principles of Bolivarian socialism. Although a preliminary draft of the newly-approved law was first passed in 2001, the new legislation further deepens the state’s commitment to the educational process, as well as redefines its role in it.

According to Article 4 of the new law, it is the state’s duty to ensure “education as a universal human right and fundamental, inalienable, non-renounceable social duty.” The progressive nature of several of the law’s sections indicate a confident Venezuelan government certain of its power. Article 20 states that private businesses must provide the resources and facilities for their workers to further their academic development. The measure also provides, for the first time in Venezuela’s history, legal recognition for indigenous languages and culture in the school system. Article 25 states that schools must provide bilingual education in regions that are “ancestrally indigenous” and must design a curriculum to suit indigenous students’ needs. The law also promotes special education, demands higher standards of educators, and promotes gender equality in the classroom.

Despite its progressive bent, the law is not without its critics. Some have charged that the new educational law is simply creating a new vehicle for previously defeated reforms. Its critics maintain that some of its articles appear to be aimed less at improving the quality of Venezuelan education and more at expanding the state’s control mechanisms over aspects of public life which have little to do with the school system. Article 8, for example requires media to “fulfill informative, formative, and recreational functions that contribute to the development of the values and principles established in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and [the Draft Law on Education].”

Similarly, Article 50 subsection 12 prohibits media outlets from publishing or broadcasting material that “produces terror in children, incites hate, aggression, indiscipline, deforms language, and goes against the values of the Venezuelan people, morality, and good taste…” In light of the recent escalation of tensions between Chávez and the opposition television channel, Globovision, any new curbs on the media cannot be viewed as inconsequential. A proposed media law which would have given jail terms to those found guilty of media infractions was shot down earlier in August. Nonetheless, to the opposition, the education law appears akin to putting a new dress on the same pig. For some, the somewhat vague nature of the law is reason for concern, as little television programming in the world, let alone in Venezuela, meets all the requirements outlined in Article 50. The fact that the law does not specify what media products are terror-producing or lacking in taste provides authorities with a wide swath of discretion in leveling charges against media outlets. The government is therefore left in the position, quite similar to former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, of recognizing infractions only when right in front of their eyes.

The More Things Change
Articles 9 and 11 could also potentially be misused in a political climate as unstable as Venezuela’s. Article 9 states that it is prohibited to publish or disseminate information in schools that “incites hatred, violence, insecurity, intolerance, language deformation, runs contrary to popular values, peace, morality, ethics, good morals, health, societal harmony, and respect for peoples and indigenous communities.” While on the surface it may appear that the law’s intent is simply to ensure that hateful language does not have a place in the classroom, it was surely not lost on the law’s framers that some of the strongest opposition to President Chávez originates in the university system. Over the years, students have led protests and called upon others to carry out acts of civil disobedience in reaction to Chávez’s policies. Some of these protests have turned violent and passions have run high at protest manifestations. Many of the actions carried out by protesting students would be outlawed under Article 9, argue opposition leaders, which has led some to believe that the law is simply a way to rein in an increasingly unruly student population.

Article 11 forbids “messages contrary to national sovereignty” by prohibiting “diffusion of ideas and doctrines contrary to national sovereignty and the principles and values outlined in the Constitution of the Republic.”

The new education law exhibits a very different understanding of academic freedom from the view espoused in the West. While the Western mindset views debate and dissent as traits which strengthen academic freedom, Article 11 would align university teachings with the state’s official Bolivarian ideology. Critics charge that these articles undermine the freedom of the university system, which is granted a degree of autonomy under the constitution. The validity of their argument can be seen as the nation’s academic curriculum is written up in Caracas with little to no acceptance of views that diverge from those espoused in the Constitution.

A section that has caused the most consternation among conservative circles is Article 15, which outlines the goals of the new education law. It states that one of these goals is to “create a new political culture founded in protagonist participation and the strengthening of Popular Power…for the reconstruction of the public spirit in new republicans with a deep obligation to public duty.” The new educational system will be based on “… Bolivarian principles”. In light of this language, the goal of the new legislation becomes obvious. Secure and confident of his power, the new law is Chávez’s boldest attempt at deepening and strengthening the Bolivarian process in Venezuela. By infusing the educational process with the regime’s values and creating an educational system which teaches and reinforces the government’s ideology, the Bolivarian regime is moving to ensure that its DNA on Venezuelan society is deep and long-lasting. The creation of a Bolivarian-based curriculum would expose Venezuelan youth to the regime’s ideology from an early age, and deepens the revolutionary break with the past that Chavez has been espousing for the better part of a decade.

Article 12 of the new law explicitly forbids political campaigning on school campuses; however, this stipulation clearly could be open to abuse. With Bolivarian ideals at the heart of the educational system, schools would be liable to be turned into a public relations machine for the regime’s message. The new law also has the potential to effectively bar dissenters from airing their opinions at schools while enshrining Bolivarian principles in the classroom. Yet, clearly the government has the right to put its stamp on society’s educational system, in the same way that the ruling elite has had its unchallenged way for decades.

To the Future and Back Again
The Venezuelan Organic Education Law (LOE) is one of the Chávez’s most ambitious projects to date. By overhauling the national education system and placing Bolivarian ideals at the heart of the teaching process, Chávez has sent a strong message to the opposition: Whether you like it or not, the revolutionary transformation will go forward as planned. The new education law demonstrates that the president feels confident and in control despite the worldwide slump in oil prices. Chávez’s PSUV controls the legislature, and the government-dominated Supreme Court is unlikely to block any ambitious legislation. Chávez’s position is possibly more secure now than at any point in his presidency.

While opposition marches regularly draw crowds in the thousands, they still do not have the critical mass necessary to exert serious pressure on the regime. On a strictly numerical basis, Chavez still draws about 60% backing of the population, which is more than President Obama can count on. The popular vote repealing term limits in January was evidence of the healthy margin of support that Chavez still enjoys among Venezuela’s poor. The most serious potential threat to his presidency, the army, has been neutralized for the most part. Rebellious officers have been weeded out, and an extensive rearmament program is likely to have ensured most of the branches’ loyalty. For Hugo Chávez, 2009 is a case of now-or-never: A lot can change in two years, and his 2012 reelection is far from assured. By pushing through serious, even radical empowering legislation now in his cause, Chávez can ensure that his legacy will outlive any election defeat. However, the president would do well in moderating his stance and perhaps treating the ’squalid ones’, as he has dubbed his opposition counterparts, with more solicitude, if only as a tactical step.

The next two years are likely to see a further radicalization of Venezuelan politics. Chávez will attempt to push anything and everything through the legislature in an effort to safeguard his legacy against the possibility of a 2012 defeat. However, the opposition will field their own candidates, and there is evidence that they are gaining ground, if only they are able to maintain unity. Chávez has struck back against popular opposition politicians such as Caracas metropolitan mayor Antonio Ledezma and regional governors in Zulia and Tachira. Clashes between the central government and regional authorities are growing all too common, and these can expect to be intensified as the 2012 elections draw near.

Further clashes with media outlets such as Globovision are almost certain, and closures would result in further social unrest. Events in the rest of Latin America may further contribute to societal convulsion in Venezuela. For the first time in years, the Venezuelan Right is seeing a glimmer of hope in the form of the July 28 Honduran coup, although this might very well backfire if the U.S. decides to stand firm with the rest of the OAS membership in denouncing the extra constitutional ouster of a legitimate leader. A cursory reading of right-wing media in Venezuela demonstrates admiration on the part of Venezuelan conservatives for interim Honduran leader Roberto Micheletti and his removal of a Chávez ally. With national political rivalries only intensifying, it is almost certain that conservative elements will at least dream about replicating June 28 in Venezuela, in an attempt to neutralize what they see as an increasingly wayward leader.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Brian Thompson
Posted 10 Sep 2009
Word Count: 1800

Comments by Roque Callage, Porto Alegre, Brazil:
A seriedade do Conselho das Americas não é colocada em dúvida por ninguem.Trata-se de uma organização civil respeitada em várias partes do mundo, acompanhando a evolução do que ocorre na Venezuela.Ela dá uma examinada considerando vários aspectos contraditórios da questão, e mostra a ditadura a pleno caminho. Mesmo que o Council não fosse respeitado, é só ter olhos de cientista social e não de leigo e avaliar o que ocorre nos domínios do fascismo corporativo de Chavez.A educação fala em inclusão de indigenas e outras palavras bonitas, mas na verdade repete uma escolástica semi-medieval espanhola (cuja inspiração remota é Molina e Suarez nas comunidades morais absolutistas do soberano do século XVII espanhol nas Américas).Acompanhada de doutrinação sindical-orgânica, na linha do pior gramscianismo-comunismo - que é fascismo corporativo entre grupos profissionais- visando totalitarizar os eventos,personagens históricos e contextos, adequando-os aos "heróis de classe" - desde o ensino primário ao secundário.Claro que isto é galhofa no mundo inteiro, mas não para o sofrimento de uma sociedade , que terá que aguentar até a derrocada do poltrão velhaco metido a mito e seus circulo de asseclas.Isto não demorará muito, porque não se afronta leis econômicas como economias de escala, escassez e custos de transação estatizando tudo por muito tempo.Nem leis sociais que tratam da solidariedade ampliada pela divisão progressiva das atividades de uma sociedade , que não são regidas pelos corpos do Estado, nem milícias fanatizadas, ou terroristas iranianos de aluguel morando em Caracas.

Os recursos para a fantasia da revolução bolivariana já estão escasseando, e a pobreza relativa(não absoluta) medida em renda per capita constante na Venezuela, aumentou drasticamente.Os investimentos cairam enormemente.O que o tirano conta a respeito dele é outra história, propaganda paga para artistas,cineastas, acadêmicos fazerem algumas idiotas e precárias teses, e alguns jornalistas cumplices do atraso.

Há um equívoco no artigo: Chavez não tem apoio de 60% da população, pois não se considera a altíssima taxa de abstenção verificada nas eleições, que se localizou justamente entre a população não militante, indefinida sobre os contéudos da farsa de plebiscito dele.Chavez tem apoio do grande percentual de sub-formalizados e sub-operários venezuelanos, a quem ofereceu muito assistencialismo mediocre e demagogico ppopulista coercitivo, e ainda no meio dos funcionários públicos empregados sob coação o tempo inteiro.Em uma sociedade pouco diversificada, isto significa perto de 50%, nunca 60.Há grande percentual de classe média em Caracas e cidades maiores que viviam e vivem do comercio e mercantilismo inter-rural, pequenos e medios agricultores, que são contra Chavez.Isto dá quase os outros 50%, que fazem oposição DIFUSA..
Governar uma sociedade desta com os métodos fascistas é quase impossível.

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