Ahead Of Chavez Funeral, Details Of Final Moments And Bickering Over Legacy



CARACAS - Venezuelans have been lining up over the past 24 hours around the Venezuelan Military Academy in the capital to say their last goodbyes to the late President Hugo Chávez.

Meanwhile, Chief of the Presidential Guard in Venezuela, General José Ornella offered new details of Chávez’s last hours, reports El Nacional. The 58-year-old President died from a massive heart attack, after a nearly two-year battle against cancer. Ornella, who spent much time with Chávez during the final months, told AP that in his final moments, he clung to life. Even though his voice couldn't be heard, Ornella read his lips:“I do not want to die," Chavez said. "Please do not let me die.”

Ornella added: “He suffered a lot -- one day, one of the doctors will tell the story.”

According to El Carabobeño, at least 11 Latin American and Caribbean leaders have confirmed their presence in Venezuela for Friday's funeral. Argentina's Cristina Kirchner and and Bolivia's Evo Morales were already in Caracas to join the stream of ordinary Venezuelans paying tribute to the body of El Comandante lying in state at the Military Academy in Fuerte Tiuna.

(Eduardo Given)

Although most countries have already expressed their official condolences, some took the occasion to not-so-subtley criticize the past 14 years of Chavez rule.

Venezolana de Televisión aired the comments of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: “At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy the rule of law and respect for human rights.” Harper added that he looked forward “to working with Chávez's successor and other leaders in the region to build a hemisphere that is more prosperous, secure and democratic.”

The Venezuelan government fired back on Wednesday saying that “it has freely and democratically chosen its Socialist destiny, is obliged to remind the representative of the Canadian government that it has been thanks to this Bolivarian Revolution that our future as an independent and sovereign country appears more radiant and promising than ever, by virtue of the legacy of our historic leader, the Commander President Hugo Chávez...”

Meanwhile, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff described Chávez as a “great Latin American” and “whose death leaves a void in the region. We see, in Chávez, a great leader, an irreparable loss, and most of all, a friend of Brazil.”

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Chinese Students Now Required To Learn To Think Like Xi Jinping

"Xi Jinping Thought" ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university.

Children from Congtai Elementary School, Handan City, Hebei Province

Maximilian Kalkhof

BEIJING — It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader.

Xi Jinping has been the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for almost 10 years. In 2017, at a party convention, he presented a doctrine in the most riveting of party prose: "Xi Jinping's ideas of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new age."

Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself. In other words, to make China great again!

Communist curriculum replaces global subjects

This doctrine has sent shockwaves through China since 2017. It's been echoed in newspapers, on TV, and screamed from posters and banners hung in many cities. But now, the People's Republic is going one step further: It's bringing "Xi Jinping Thought" into the schools.

Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation?

The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

photo of books about Xi-Jinping on a shelf at the 2021 Hong Kong Book Fair

Books about Xi-Jinping at the 2021 Hong Kong Book Fair

Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images/ZUMA

— Photo:

Targeting pop culture

The regime is also taking massive action against the entertainment industry. Popstar Kris Wu was arrested on charges of rape. Movies and TV series starring actor Zhao Wei have started to disappear from Chinese streaming platforms. The reason is unclear.

What the developments do show is that China is attempting to decouple from the West with increasing insistence. Beijing wants to protect its youth from Western excesses, from celebrity worship, super wealth and moral decline.

A nationalist blogger recently called for a "profound change in the economy, finance, culture and politics," a "revolution" and a "return from the capitalists to the masses." Party media shared the text on their websites. It appears the analysis caused more than a few nods in the party headquarters.

Dictatorships are always afraid of pluralism.

Caspar Welbergen, managing director of the Education Network China, an initiative that aims to intensify school exchanges between Germany and China, says that against this background, the curriculum reform is not surprising.

"The emphasis on 'Xi Jinping Thought' is being used in all areas of society," he says. "It is almost logical that China is now also using it in the education system."

Needless to say, the doctrine doesn't make student exchanges with China any easier.

Dictatorships are always afraid of color, pluralism and independent thinking citizens. And yet, Kristin Kupfer, a Sinology professor at the University of Trier, suggests that ideologically charged school lessons should not be interpreted necessarily as a sign of weakness of the CCP.

From the point of view of a totalitarian regime, she explains, this can also be interpreted as a signal of strength. "It remains to be seen whether the Chinese leadership can implement this so thoroughly," Kupfer adds. "Initial reactions from teachers and parents on social media show that such a widespread attempt to control opinion has raised fears and discontent in the population."

Die Welt
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