‘Nazi school’ prompts outrage and calls for anti-hate legislation
Published On : Tue, Mar 18th, 2014
Campaigners and politicians call for greater tools to combat extreme right as ‘nationalist’ school announces plans to teach Nazi ideology on remote island.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle and the Jewish community called for an investigation into a “Nazi school” Monday, as the institute’s founder announced plans to teach the ideology of Adolf Hitler on the remote southern island of Chiloé.
The town of Ancúd, the second largest settlement on the main island of the Chiloé archipelago, was the unlikely site of numerous large, swastika-bearing posters in recent days. The so-called “Art school, President General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte” — named after the former far right dictator (1973-1990) — announced plans to recruit students ahead of its opening March 28.
Marcelo Isaacson, executive director of the Jewish Community of Chile (CJCH), told The Santiago Times that extreme right activity is “not uncommon” in the country. The one-time Nazi, cult, torture center Colonia Dignidad, is the most notorious example but, Isaacson says, extreme groups operate throughout the country.
He called for a law condemning incitement of hatred Monday, claiming the recently-passed anti-discrimination bill — fast-tracked following the murder of Daniel Zamudio at the hands of self-named neo-Nazis — is still lacking.
“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,” he said.
The founder of the Nazi-inspired school, Godofredo Rodríguez Pacheco, told local press he hopes to lay the first steps for a political party. The swastika-dominated posters defined the school’s aim as “strengthening the political right in the Chiloé Region,” prompting former Dep. Gabriel Ascencio of the center-left Christian Democrat (DC) party to call on his counterparts to join him in condemnation of the initiative.
Deputy for Chiloé, Alejandro Santana of the center-right National Renewal party, also strongly rejected the Nazi education, balking at suggestions of a connection between the establishment right and extremist groups.
“We don’t have any idea of who they are, or who is behind this so-called link with a Nazi school,” he told press.
Ascencio, DC Dep. Gabriel Silber and CJCH President Gerardo Gorodischer met with Interior Minister Rodrigo Pañailillo to present records on neo-Nazi groups operating in the Los Lagos Region Monday. They demanded an investigation by intelligence services and the investigative police (PDI) into the school’s links to other extremist groups.
“The resources and infrastructure make us believe that this isn’t simply a case of one man talking to the media, but instead there may be greater coordination at work here and therefore we call for a thorough investigation,” Silber said in a press release.
Ascencio went on to demand that the so-called “Nazi school” is prohibited from opening.
“We cannot accept a school of this character in our island of Chiloé or in any other part of the country. We believe that situations as these have to be nipped in the bud so we expect quick results from the Interior Ministry,” Ascencio said.
Lily Pérez, RN founding member and now senator with Amplitud — a party formed by disillusioned members of the mainstream center right — also rejected the school in strong terms, joining Isaacson in calling for a law against incitement of hate. In 2009, neo-Nazi groups threatened to kill Pérez because of her Jewish roots. The senator said the school’s investigation will count with the full support of her party.
“We have to learn from those countries who once paid little attention to these dangers and who then found themselves submerged in one of the biggest tragedies humankind has ever seen,” she told press.
However, the man responsible for the outrage, Pacheco, remained unfazed.
“Why do some people use the name Salvador Allende, a jew and a mason?” he said, defending his appropriation of the name of former dictator Pinochet. “I justify the school name because the armed forces were obliged to intervene in September 1973.”
Pacheco claims to have studied aquaculture but currently self-describes himself as a nationalist writer promoting the ideology of Hitler. Among his grievances is the current education system.
“The Masons manipulate education. They don’t teach according to the Third Reich,” Pacheco said. “I don’t defend them but history has to be told in another way, because there’s a lot of manipulation. If I talk about this in Europe they’ll put me in jail, but I’m not afraid.”
By Belinda Torres-Leclercq
Copyright 2014 – The Santiago Times