Pinochet 'dictatorship' textbook row erupts in Chile

File photo of Augusto Pinochet Gen Pinochet's supporters say he saved Chile from Communism

Related Stories

A political row has broken out in Chile after it emerged that the centre-right government is changing the way school textbooks refer to the military rule of Gen Augusto Pinochet.

From now on, it will be described as a "regime", and not a "dictatorship".

Left-wing opposition parties have accused officials of trying to whitewash history.

The government says the decision to use what it calls a more general term is not politically motivated.

More than 3,000 Chileans disappeared or were killed by the armed forces during Gen Pinochet's rule, which ended in 1990.

Many thousands more were tortured or illegally detained, and the legacy of the period is still bitterly disputed.

Outrage

The decision to change the way primary school textbooks refer to military rule, dropping the word "dictatorship" was taken by the National Education Council.

Education Minister Harald Beyer - who was appointed last week - defended the decision, but said the government had not been directly involved.

"It is about using the same expression that is used around the world, a more general term such as military regime," he said.

Mr Beyer added that he personally "had no problem" in recognising that Gen Pinochet led a "dictatorial government".

The change to the school curriculum has provoked outrage among left-wing opposition parties.

Senator Isabel Allende - whose father President Salvador Allende was overthrown and died in the 1973 coup led by Gen Pinochet - said it was "unacceptable".

"it goes against all common sense, because the whole world knows that for 17 years what we had in Chile was a ferocious dictatorship with the most serious violations of human rights," she said.

"History cannot be changed by a decree or a law," said former President Eduardo Frei, who led Chile from 1994-2000.

"There is only one history and it is clear: it was a dictatorship, full stop"

President Sebastian Pinera is Chile's first conservative leader since the return to democracy.

His majority in parliament depends in part on the right-wing Independent Democratic Union, which supported Gen Pinochet.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Latin America & Caribbean stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Prostitute in red light district in Seoul, South KoreaSex for soldiers

    How Korea helped prostitutes work near US military bases


  • LuckyDumped

    The rubbish collector left on the scrap heap as his city cleans up


  • A woman gets a Thanksgiving meal at a church in FergusonFamily fears

    Three generations in Ferguson share Thanksgiving reflections


  • Walmart employees and supporters block off a major intersection near the Walton Family Foundation to stage a protest calling for $15 an hour and consistent full-time work in downtown Washington October 16, 2014. Black mark

    Wal-Mart workers revolt against the annual shopping bonanza


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • UnderwaterHidden depths

    How do you explore the bottom of the ocean? BBC Future finds out

Programmes

  • All-inclusive holidaysThe Travel Show Watch

    With all-inclusive holidays seeing a resurgence are local trades missing out to big resorts?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.