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Manuel Rosales announces Arturo Uslar Pietri education programme

By Aleksander Boyd

Caracas 02.10.06 | As I write these notes opposition candidate Manuel Rosales is giving a press conference, which has started with an announcement regarding education. Immediate attention will be dispensed to primary schools at a national level. Starting February 2007 all schools will receive from the central government books and all necessary materials needed, so that poor families won't have to fork out these costs. He speaks about 72% of families being in no position to feed their kids properly, which runs counter to attendance. For that reason he will implement a school lunch programme so that pupils will at least be fed while at school. Rosales argues that there are thousands of students that weren't able to access higher education due to rising cost. In Zulia up to 45.000 students have enrolled in programmes that the governorship has broke with private universities.

The programmes will be implemented at a national level in an attempt to replicate successful examples of Zulia. Questions are being asked about the budget that will be alocated to kickstart the programme to which Rosales replied that his government will fund and alocate whatever funds are needed.

Rosales critizised Hugo Chavez by reminding journalists that Chavez has said repeatedly that he plans to stay in power until the cows come home a la Fidel. He says that Venezuelans have a simple choice to make really; either communism or democracy

There's apprehension about security in the coming rally in Caracas this weekend. Rosales is mocking Chavez by saying that the current administration rather than getting on with the job of safeguarding the integrity and wellbeing of Venezuelans its leader keeps announcing unsubstantiated assassination plots.

The representative from Radio Nacional de Espaņa asked what does Rosales think about two ETA terrorists that work for the Chavez government. Further he said that Venezuela should not have terrorists in the public administration and these two individuals ought to be immediately dismissed and handed over to concerned authorities.

The massacre of La Paragua, where at least 6 miners were assassinated by the military, is also being touched upon. Rosales says that the armed forces have to be devolved to its institutional role which is to protect the country's sovereignty.

The issue of CITGO was also mentioned. No surprise there in Rosales' opinion for a government that does not respect contracts and private property can not pretend to be taken seriously by national and foreign investors.

The opposition candidate talked about the necessity of voting massively. He repeated that he has won in Zulia with the very same machines that the rest of the country are so afraid of. For that reason he invited all Venezuelans to participate without fear.

The journalist from the official channel Venezolana de Television is asking about security and education issues. He considers ambitious the 12 point security plan and wants to know how will he finance and implement such a plan. He is also asking about Henry Lopez Sisco, who acts as chief of security of the governorship of Zulia. Rosales replied quoting crime figures. Violence has been tackled effectively in that state, to the point of being the 23rd state in criminality percentages according to demographics. In terms of violent crimes Zulia ranks 6th nationally. "We have been successful with only one police force, but we can't fight the Colombian guerrilla, the drug trade and the kidnappings in the frontier. That's something the central government needs to tackle as state policy." Regarding Lopez Sisco Rosales is showing newspaper cuttings from 2002 of Lopez Sisco with high officials from the Chavez government, adding "how come 4 years ago he was good, and he was recommended by Chavez's crony Rodriguez Chacin, and now that he is with me he isn't good any longer?"

Jesus Hernandez from Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias asked about Rosales' take on neoliberalism and polls. Rosales says that he departs from neoliberalism "material things need to be related somewhat to the human aspect. A state needs to look after citizens and families. I believe in freedom and in democracy and I am totally opposed to totalitarian tendencies such as communism or the experiment that the incumbent wants to implements here with a one party state, one ideology, one voice of command." As to poll results Rosales said he is not worried by polls.

Rosales declined to comment on Lula's ticket or Brazil's elections. He said he respects the internal politics and sovereignty of other countries.

He affirmed his commitment to respect religious institutions that are involved in education. Citing conversations with Mother Francisca from school La Presentacion in Maracaibo Rosales expressed that successful examples are to be supported and promoted instead of being punished for ideological, religious or political reasons.

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