Latin America & Caribbean

Chile minister resigns over Human Rights Museum row

The entrance to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago during an exhibition in October 2017 of declassified CIA documents that show US involvement in General Pinochet"s coup in 1973. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Museum of History and Human Rights was opened to keep alive the memory of crimes committed during the years of military government

Chile's culture minister, Mauricio Rojas, has resigned after criticism over comments he made in 2015 about a human rights museum.

Mr Rojas came under fire after it was revealed that he had questioned the validity of the museum in Santiago.

He called it a montage and said its purpose was to shock visitors and manipulate history.

The Museum of History and Human Rights documents abuses during the military government of Augusto Pinochet.

In a book published in 2015, Mr Rojas is quoted as saying the museum's aim is to astonish and prevent visitors from reasoning.

"It's a shameless and inaccurate use of a national tragedy that touched so many of us directly," he said.

After the scandal broke out over the weekend, Mr Rojas said those comments did not reflect his current view, and added that he had "never diminished nor justified unacceptable, systematic and grave human rights violations that happened in Chile".

But pressure from human rights organisations and politicians from both left and right forced him to resign after only four days in the job.

The Chilean President Sebastian PiƱera said he had accepted his resignation for the good functioning of the government.

The Museum of History and Human Rights was opened in 2010 by the then president Michelle Bachelet to remind people of the crimes and abuses committed during the years of military government, from 1973 to 1990.

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