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Hugo Chavez seeks to root out English

February 26, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
President Hugo Chavez's government is taking its battle against U.S. "imperialism" into Venezuelans' dictionaries, urging state phone company workers to avoid English-language business and tech terms. Through a campaign launched Monday, newly nationalized CANTV hopes to wean employees and others from words like "staff" ("equipo" is preferred), "marketing" ("mercadeo") and "password" ("contrasena").

Stickers and banners printed up by the company exhort Venezuelans to "Say it in Spanish. Say it with pride."

The Communications and Information Ministry said in a statement that Venezuelans must recover Spanish words that are "threatened by sectors that have started a battle for the cultural domination of our nations."

Other English words targeted include "mouse" (the company prefers "raton"), "meeting" ("reunion") and "sponsor" ("patrocinador") - all of which have become common in Latin 0American countries.

The leftist president has sought to counter what he calls U.S. cultural imperialism on all fronts, financing Venezuelan cinema as an alternative to the "dictatorship of Hollywood" and forcing radio stations to play more Venezuelan music.

English is still taught in schools alongside other languages, however. And Chavez himself often breaks playfully into English during speeches, sometimes to salute his close friend, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, saying: "How are you, Fidel?"

 

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