(JTA) — An art school that promotes Nazi ideology is scheduled to open in Chile.
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.
Chilean lawmaker Daniel Farcas told the local media that he would be willing to “exert all possible actions to prevent those who seek to claim a murderer regime actually does not have a chance to do it.”