The subsecretary of the Armed Forces of Chile, Gabriel Gaspar, signed a document November 26 of historical significance, ratifying the permanent change of the name of a prestigious military service medal.
His signature changed the name of the medal from “Medal Army Commander-in-Chief General la Comandante Augusto Pinochet Ugarte,” created March 11, 1997, to “Medal Army Commander-in-Chief,” dropping the name of the former military dictator Augusto Pinochet.
The original petition for the name change came from the country’s military itself in 2006, agreed to by the ministry of defense and the country’s army.
“This decision marks the gradual professionalization of the symbols of our Armed Forces, that were contaminated at a certain moment in history with the non-professional role they assumed,” Gaspar remarked to the Chilean daily newspaper La Tercera.
This follows other recent legislation in Chile to remove homages to the former dictator under whose military directorship more than 3,000 people were disappeared or killed. Chile has officially recognized that more than 40,000 in total have been victimized in some way or another by the civil-military regime that gripped Chile from 1973 to 1990.
A Chilean parliamentarian presented a draft proposal November 26 to prohibit any type of homage to Pinochet, be it plaques, street names, or other public displays. The Communist Party delegate and representative of the Chilean student congress, Karol Cariola, put forward the initiative on the eve of what would have been Pinochet’s 99th birthday.
“We wanted to title this ‘No street shall carry his name’ because we find that it is unacceptable that even today, the southern highway is still named Augusto Pinochet, that Military School campuses are named after him, and that we cannot continue down this road, but instead, work toward truth and finding justice,” Cariola told La Radio Nacional.
The parliamentarian also cited examples of Germany and Spain where Nazism and Francoism are banned by law.