CARACAS, APR. 2, 2001 ( Parents, teachers, and students connected

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to Catholic schools protested yesterday in 30 Venezuelan cities against the
education reform the government plans to implement.

The protesters regard the implementation of Decree 1,011 and the National
Assembly´s new draft law on education as an attempt to «ideologize» the
educational system. Since coming to power, President Hugo Chavez has
established, democratically, a system of populist government, which he now
hopes to apply to public and private schools.

Decree 1,011 appoints itinerant supervisors with the power to suspend
directors of educational institutions if they observe any irregularity.

Parents and school representatives protested that the new draft law on
education leaves room for possible State indoctrination of students. The
protesters insist on parents´ right to choose the education of their children.

Last week, President Chavez, a former general who led a coup and has been
President since 1998, had to face a wave of unrest, including strikes and
protests from oil and iron and steel workers, and university professors and

The Venezuelan President replaced the Congress, Supreme Court, and the
majority of state governments with new bodies resulting from elections and
referendums. According to Chavez, he is reforming a corrupt and elitist
political system, but the opposition accuses him of accumulating
authoritarian powers, which he now wishes to extend to schools.

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