Amid accusations of insensitivity, Chile’s new culture minister, Mauricio Rojas, resigned on Monday.
In an interview published in 2015 that recently resurfaced, Rojas criticized the Museum of History and Human Rights in Santiago, which documents human rights violations during Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship (1973–1990).
“More than a museum, it is an installation whose purpose ... is to shock the spectator, leaving them astonished and preventing them from reasoning,” he said in the interview, which appears in a 2015 book he co-authored. “It is a manipulation of history ... a shameless and inaccurate use of a national tragedy that touched so many of us directly.”
Rojas said the comments do not reflect his current position, but the damage was done: politicians on the left and right and Chilean actors, writers, and musicians called for his resignation. He left his post after only four days on the job.
“In the best interests of our country, for the wellbeing of all our compatriots and the good functioning of our government, I have decided to accept his resignation, ” said Chilean President Sebastián Piñera.
Rojas’s replacement will be archeologist Consuelo Valdés.
The Museum of History and Human Rights opened in 2010, under the president at the time Michelle Bachelet, to commemorate the estimated 3,000 people who disappeared or lost their lives during the Pinochet dictatorship, and the 28,000 who were tortured.