Chavez's growing influence in France


Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez's growing influence in the Caribbean, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Colombia and Mexico has received inadeuqate media attention. Chavez's regional clout is important to watch, because it is a growing menace that edges ever closer to us in the U.S. 
But astonishingly, we don't seem to realize the half of it. Chavez may have much bigger ambitions than the Americas. Alek Boyd went to Paris and found evidence that Hugo Chavez has extended his influence deep into France and its institutions. In his latest piece, he found that a French school book for Spanish instruction has a romanticized hagiography of dictator Hugo Chavez. It's not normal stuff, even by liberal educators' standards, but a real propaganda effort defiant of reality. It also portrays Fidel Castro as a hero and cites his infamous 'history will absolve me' dictum as justification for his depredations.

Alek has photos  from the French textbooks and their litany of unbelievable "lessons." It reminds us of the textbooks that are rife with anti—Semitism and anti—Americanism in places like Iran. Suddenly Chavez's empathy with the ayatollahs looks as though it may be deeper than just oil production joint ventures.
It's incredible that a fully Westernized country — a benchmark Western country like France, with a highly centralized educational structure, could so allow the teaching of this Chavista intellectual debris. Venezuela's oil despot looks like he's trying to make France an ideological colony. And it's not just textbooks. The talk of Paris is that Le Monde Diplomatique, a French newspaper facing the same tough pressures as other newspapers, has suddenly come into a lot of money to buy a huge building in Paris and some think it could be Venezuelan money .  If it's not true, it's a sign of the mood in Paris.
And no wonder. This one textbook example shows how far the influence of Hugo Chavez extends. Its consequence could be that French voters will show no understanding at all of unfree regimes like Venezuela, any more than they did to the horror of Iraq. Allowing this junk thought is ultimately a rejection of Western values, the humanist tradition and civilization itself.
A.M. Mora y Leon 05 20 05