President of Chile receives UCSD medal

    Chilean President Ricardo Lagos received the UCSD Medal, the highest award granted by the university, on Jan. 9. After being presented the medal by Acting Chancellor Marsha A. Chandler, Lagos addressed approximately 500 students, dignitaries and other audience members in a public speech. Later in the day, the Institute of the Americas also presented Lagos with its Award for Democracy and Peace.

    Rachel A. Garcia
    Guardian

    “”Your leadership is something that has been studied by our students and faculty and will continue to be studied by many generations to come,”” Chandler said to Lagos during the presentation. “”You’ve informed us, you’ve educated us, but most importantly, you’ve inspired us.””

    A prominent political figure since the 1980s, Lagos was one of the principle actors in helping to bring down Chile’s dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Since his election in 2000, Lagos has led the country to economic growth, cutting the country’s poverty rate in half. Lagos studied law at the University of Chile and received a doctorate in economics from Duke University.

    “”Just the fact that the economy has prospered as much as it has, is just inspiring to other Latin American countries, and it was interesting to hear some of his opinions,”” said Adriana Ambriz, a Thurgood Marshall College senior.

    Rachel A. Garcia
    Guardian

    During his speech, Lagos spoke about the necessity of building bridges between his country and the United States.

    “”The Americans and Chile belong to one hemisphere, and we share common values,”” Lagos said. “”Those values that we share make it possible to see in a common way the future. Now is the time to break down barriers that exist among our people.””

    Lagos also spoke about the different aspects of his country’s growth. He stated that there are areas of common values in which the foundation of the bridge can be built upon, including democracy, human rights, economic systems and social cohesion.

    “”The commitment to human rights means that all of us have to act in a consistent manner using democratic methods to fight against terrorism, because terrorism is the final expression of denial of human rights,”” Lagos said.

    Lagos also discussed the importance of creating strong public policies, including providing citizens with education and housing. After his speech, Institute of the Americas President Jeffrey Davidow asked Lagos questions ranging from free-trade agreements and the relationship between Cuba and other countries in Latin America, to the roles of the United States and the United Nations.

    The Institute of the Americas, an organization working to bring government and business leaders from the Americas to discuss issues of globalization, governmental regulations and poverty alleviation, presented its award to Lagos during a luncheon given in his honor. Established in 1987, the award recognizes contributions in areas of democracy, peace and social and economic reform in the Americas. Other recipients of the award include President Oscar Arias Sánchez of Costa Rica, President Carlos Saúl Menem of Argentina and most recently, in 2001, President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico.

    “”Lagos is the principle actor in the restoration of democracy in Chile and the promotions of Chile’s economic prosperity,”” Davidow said. “”Lagos led his country to signing a free-trade agreement with the United States.””

    Some attendees of the public lecture commented that the Lagos’ speech was helpful in understanding more about Chile. Thurgood Marshall College junior Estercita Aldinger said that although she previously did not know much about Lagos, his presentation helped her discover more about the country.

    “”It’s refreshing to see a president that actually stands for the ideals that should be stood for, especially in Latin America where we lack a lot of good policies that actually change the country for the better,”” Aldinger said. “”It seems that Lagos did that.””

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