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World Briefing / Venezuela

Protests over new education law

August 23, 2009|FROM TIMES WIRE REPORTS

Police dispersed opponents of President Hugo Chavez's government as thousands demonstrated both for and against an education law that critics fear will lead to political indoctrination in schools.

Officers fired tear gas, a water cannon and rubber bullets to scatter opposition marchers in Caracas as they tried to break through a police barrier. Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami accused the protesters of "inciting violence" by throwing rocks at police.

The law approved last week by the largely pro-Chavez National Assembly orders schools to base curricula on "the Bolivarian Doctrine," a reference to ideals espoused by 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar, such as national self-determination and Latin American unity. Critics noted that Chavez uses the term "Bolivarian" to describe his political movement.

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