Chilean navy chant offends neighboring countries

A Chilean Naval officer's medals, as a wreath is laid to mark Chilean Naval Day at Westminster Abbey, May 21, 2009, London.

Story highlights

  • A video shows Chilean cadets singing an offensive cadence
  • The song called for the deaths of Peruvians, Bolivians and Argentineans
  • Bolivia called it a violation of international charters
  • Chile has ordered a quick investigation

The Chilean government has promised a speedy investigation into a viral video of its naval cadets that has offended three neighboring nations.

The amateur video shows a bloc of cadets running on a public street, repeating the cadence of their instructor: "Argentineans I will kill; Bolivians I will shoot; Peruvians I'll behead."

Chile is not at war with any of the countries.

"Without a doubt, they are shameful images," Chilean government spokeswoman Cecilia Perez said. "These types of actions do not represent the good relations that our country has with the fellow countries mentioned, and the peace Chile has always wanted to achieve and maintain in our region."

Historically, Chile has had rivalries and disputes with its neighbors. Landlocked Bolivia lost its access to the Pacific Ocean to Chile in a war, for example, and it continues to fight for a sliver of coast.

"Chile is a country that generates controversy in the region without justification, behaving in a way that does not foster confidence-building or peace in South America," Bolivia's defense ministry said in a statement.

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The incident violates Chile's allegiance to the tenets of the United Nations and Organization of American States charter, the ministry said.

In a radio interview, Argentina Defense Minister Arturo Puricelli called the video "truly unacceptable."

He said it may be an isolated incident, but he expects a swift resolution from Chile.

Chile's defense minister gave his subordinates 24 hours to uncover what is behind the video.

Peru's defense minister, Pedro Cateriano, expressed support for a swift investigation.

"They are condemnable remarks, but thankfully the Chilean authorities have reacted in a quick manner, and to that end we have confidence in them to clarify the incident," he said.

The cadet video surfaced after a report by the country's National Institute of Youth showed intolerance among the country's young people. Gypsies, people with mental disabilities and homosexuals are groups most often discriminated against among the young, the group reported.

Former cadet and Chilean Congressman Gonzalo Arenas called the reaction an "embarrassment."

"Those songs have always existed in all the armed forces," he said on his Twitter account.

Arenas said he sang the same cadences when he was a cadet more than 20 years ago.

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