The Anti-Defamation League on Sunday expressed outrage over plans by the administrators of an art school in Chile to promote Nazi ideology and make widespread use of the swastika.
The “Art school, President General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte,” which is set to open Friday on the southern island of Chiloe, is named for the dictator who stepped down in 1990 after the South American country held democratic elections. Posters promoting the school include a swastika.
Jewish community leaders, Chilean civil society groups and a lawmaker have demanded that the school, which the Jewish community called offensive, remain shuttered.
The school is not recognized by the country’s Ministry of Education. There are no laws in Chile that restrict the spread of Nazi ideology.
Marcelo Isaacson, executive director of the Jewish Community of Chile, on Friday called on the country to adopt laws against the promotion of Nazi values in order to prevent the founding of other institutions such as the Ugarte school.
“The difference with Europe is that Chile lags behind on its regulation condemning these kind of activities. These Nazis hide themselves behind the right of freedom of expression,” Issacson told the Santiago Times. He also told the newspaper that extreme right activity is “not uncommon” in Chile.
Gerardo Gorodischer, the president of Chile’s Jewish community, told CNN Chile that the school “does not contribute anything to the development and growth of the country.”
The school’s founder, Godofredo Rodriguez Pacheco, told the local media, “My ultimate goal is to form a political party, a nationalist proposal designed from Chiloe, and I don’t mind if people tell me I’m a Nazi.”
Pachecho said in Chile, “They don’t teach according to the Third Reich,” the Times of Israel reported. “I don’t defend them, but history has to be told in another way because there’s a lot of manipulation.”
Police arrested Pacheco earlier this week on unrelated theft charges, according to reports.
“We are deeply concerned and offended by the recent shocking remarks made by Mr. Pacheco, publicly embracing the Nazi swastika and expressing interest in teaching Hitler’s anti-Semitic ideology in his school,” said ADL national director Abe Foxman. “The school’s opening is a setback in Chilean society. It sends a chilling message to the Jewish community in Chile and is an affront to all those in Chile who strive to live in harmony.”
“While we commend the country’s Ministry of Education for its decision to withhold accreditation for the school and welcome statements by local politicians condemning the hateful rhetoric of the school’s founder, we respectfully urge officials at the highest levels of government to publicly state that racism, bigotry or anti-Semitism have no place in Chile’s educational system or anywhere in Chilean society.”