July 20, 2008
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Hugo Chavez on Sunday urged kids to embrace socialism, raising the ire of educators and parents who turned back the Venezuelan president's earlier proposal to rewrite textbooks to add socialist doctrine.
Chavez celebrated a Venezuelan holiday promoting children's welfare by telling a group of adolescents to become socialists with the monk-like mission to serve the poor that was espoused by Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
"We must study socialism," said Chavez, telling the children they should read Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels - authors of the "Communist Manifesto" - along with other socialist thinkers.
Capitalism "exploits children, confuses and poisons them," he said.
Chavez - a close ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro - wants to model Venezuelan teaching on the ideological education in communist-led Cuba, educator Leonardo Carvajal warned after the speech.
Carvajal, whose nonprofit Education Assembly endorses a pluralistic approach to teaching, accused Chavez of indoctrinating students with "outdated Soviet-era models."
Chavez was forced to backtrack on a school textbook overhaul in April after teachers and parents accused him of trying to indoctrinate their children with socialist ideas. His government is drafting a new curriculum to be implemented in schools next year.
Activists such as Carvajal plan to challenge the modified project in the courts and in the streets with protests if Chavez attempts to add revolutionary ideology to new textbooks.