American anti-hate group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called on the Chilean government to condemn a new art school promoting Nazism set to open at the end of this month in the South American state.
In a statement the ADL "expressed shock and outrage" regarding statements made by the founder of the art school, which promotes the use of the swastika and other Nazi symbols and has announced plans to teach Adolf Hitler's ideology in the institution, which is located in the Chilean Patagonia.
In a letter to Chile's Ambassador to the US, the ADL called on the Chilean government "to clearly condemn this deeply offensive glorification of Nazism".
The League also urged the Education Minister to publicly affirm that anti-Semitism, hate and discrimination in any form have no place in the educational system or elsewhere in Chilean society.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor, said he was "deeply concerned and offended" at the remarks made by the school's founder Godofredo Rodriguez Pacheco.
He said the "public embrace" of Nazism and anti-Semitism presented "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," he added.
"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."
But Pacheco has been unfazed by the criticism, telling local media, "my ultimate goal is to form a political party, a nationalist proposal designed from Chile, and I don’t mind if people tell me I’m a Nazi."
In response to Mr. Pacheco, the President of the Jewish community of Chile Gerardo Gorodischer said that the school "does not contribute anything to the development and growth of the country."
Some 17,000 Jews live in Chile, the majority of whom live in the country's capital Santiago.