The ties that bind communist Cuba to socialist Venezuela grow stronger and stronger, as President Nicolás Maduro orders the delivery of twenty million communist textbooks from Cuba to Venezuelan schools. The books teach that a Cuban woman breastfed founding father Simón Bolívar, and that Hugo Chávez liberated Venezuela.
Spanish newspaper ABC reports that the shipment of those twenty million books has continued throughout the year, and that most experts that have read through them find them woefully inadequate as learning tools. The books claim that it was not a slavewoman but a Cuban friend of Simón Bolívar’s mother who breastfed him, instilling the image of Cuba as the mother country of Venezuela in children’s minds. Historians tell the paper that no such “Cuban friend” appears in historical accounts of Bolívar’s life.
Venezuela Awareness, an NGO working to protect human rights in the country, objects that the books do not teach children how to think or proper history. “The books eliminate critical thinking in children and create the basis for indoctrination towards a single ideology, which is the ideology of the Bolivarian Revolution,” said NGO head Patricia Andrade.
The books also teach that Venezuela was not a free nation before Hugo Chávez, thus deeming him an even more important founding father than Bolívar, because he removed the yoke of the “imperialist” American “enemies” from the country. Parents on Twitter have been sharing some key pages from their children’s textbooks. One phonetics textbook teaches children that Che Guevara “struggled in Cuba.” Another shows Chávez shaking hands with Bolívar, despite being born a century apart.
Miren que bonito no, ahora los niños de venezuela son obligados a leer estos libros que bellos… pic.twitter.com/pjm8HEjcRg
— BQWER (@epsonjuan123) April 25, 2014
— Ildiko (@Ildikogg) March 9, 2014
The books’ lack of factual information has led many teachers in Venezuela to reject them. “We don’t consider these books relevant… they are full of ideology and do not have any real content that gives children knowledge,” said a spokeswoman for the Venezuelan Federation of Teachers. Parents and some older children have reacted even more aggressively to the books. In San Cristóbal, the capital of the western state of Táchira, groups of dissidents began burning the books in the streets. San Cristóbal is currently still under martial law after Maduro arrested its mayor for working with the opposition.
— Jorge @yeye6204 (@yeye6204) April 29, 2014
The Cuban government has been increasingly involved in training the Venezuelan government. While always closely allied with Chávez, communist Cubans have become integral operators at the highest levels of Venezuelan power. Cuban guardsmen train many prison guards and the Bolivarian National Guard, while Maduro keeps a close circle of Cuban advisors near him. Maduro has also imported hundreds of Cuban doctors into the failing Venezuelan health care system, which closely resembles the collapsing Cuban one.