Chile Textbook Controversy: Government Backs Down On Changing Pinochet's 'Dictatorship' To 'Regime'

01/06/2012 04:05 pm ET | Updated Jan 06, 2012

Looks like the Chilean government has decided that characterizing Augusto Pinochet's years in power as a "regime" rather than a "dictatorship" is not such a good idea, after all.

Controversy flared after this year's national elementary school curriculum referred to the 17-year military dictatorship as a "regime," which many saw as exceedingly soft language to describe the government's ruthless rights abuses between 1973 and 1990.

Salvador Allende's daughter, Sen. Isabel Allende, told the Associated Press that the change in terminology is "unacceptable":

"It goes against common sense, because the entire world knows that during 17 years what Chile had was a ferocious dictatorship with the most serious human rights violations, where there was no parliament, where there was no liberty, where there was persecution, murders and disappearances."

Now, according to the Associated Press, Chile's Education Minister Harald Beyer is reversing course, saying that he hadn't intended to "deny the undemocratic nature of the military regime, nor the human rights violations that resulted."

Chile operated over 1,130 secret torture centers under Pinochet's rule. 40,018 people were tortured, imprisoned, or killed for political motivations.

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