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Push for Pinochet 'dictatorship' in textbooks

Chilean education advisory pushes to indicate Pinochet's rule as a 'dictatorship' in school textbooks.

Last Modified: 05 Oct 2013 08:33
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A Chilean education advisory group has recommended that schools use the term "dictatorship" rather than "military regime" in textbooks to describe General Augusto Pinochet's 17-year rule marred by rights abuses.

Friday's decision by the National Education Council represents a shift over how Chile brands the 1973-1990 era that saw Pinochet brutally crack down on anything representing of leftist dissent, leaving more than 3,200 people dead and arresting some 38,000.

"In this case, since time has passed, let's get straight to the point and use the word 'dictatorship,'" council president Ignacio Irarrazaval told Radio Bio Bio.

"I understand that using the word military 'dictatorship' may get some opposition but after quite an overhaul in political science, that's the word in use, that's all."

The measure, which the council proposed to the Education Ministry, would be applied to school textbooks for children 12-16 years old.

In 2012, the council had approved using both the words "regime" and "dictatorship" interchangeably to describe the Pinochet government in textbooks for children aged six to 12.

'Dictatorship' vs. 'Military regime'

That decision followed a controversial government proposal by right-wing President Sebastian Pinera to use the word "regime," saying it was "more general."

Education Minister Carolina Schmidt asked for clarification from the council, and suggested that the government would abide by last year's recommendation for now.

"What we want to know is if they want us to use the two phrases in each paragraph or if they only want use to use military dictatorship, in which case we should be told why, because the academics and the same council said the two words were indistinguishable," Schmidt told Radio Cooperativa.

Pinochet seized power in a military coup in September 1973, ousting socialist president Salvador Allende.

In Chile, his supporters and detractors refer to the Pinochet era differently.

Opponents speak of the Pinochet "dictatorship," while supporters talk about the "military regime" and "military coup."

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Source:
AFP
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