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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Chile honours its insulted hero
By Clinton Porteus
BBC correspondent in Santiago

Arturo Prat (Photo: Chilean Navy)
Naval commander Arturo Prat is one of Chile's great historical figures
A ceremony has been held in Chile to honour the 19th Century military hero Arturo Prat after bizarre insults were published in 250,000 school books.

The offending English language textbook called him a dirty old man that never shaved and said Chilean sailors were Pinochet supporters and cowards.

The Chilean government has called it sabotage and recalled all copies.

A special service was held at the national monument to Prat, attended by senior political and military figures.

An investigation is also underway to find out who changed the text before publication.

War hero and naval commander Arturo Prat is one of Chile's great historical figures and has everything from an Antarctic base to a university named after him.

He is known for his outrageous courage after jumping aboard an enemy ship and trying to take control of it following a mid-sea collision in 1879.

Students honoured

When two 13-year-old students discovered their new English language textbook contained insults against Arturo Prat, there was a national outcry.

The navy last week honoured the two students who are credited with being the first to discover the insults.

Now a special service has been held at Arturo Prat's national monument.

A naval band played as a wreath of flowers was laid and there were speeches praising him.

The president of the lower house of the congress said Chile needed to uphold its national heroes, especially for young people.

He said he hoped the offensive episode was over.

Country profile: Chile
26 Nov 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Chile
11 Dec 03  |  Country profiles

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