Nobel Peace Prize winner and former US president Jimmy Carter was honored Sunday, May 3, by the governor of Brazil's powerhouse state of São Paulo for his contributions to the development of the state.
The honor, the Great Cross of "The Order of Ipiranga," the highest given by the state, was awarded by Governor José Serra, the main leader of the opposition and a strong presidential hopeful in Brazil's next year's elections.
The ceremony took place at São Paulo's government house and among the personalities present was former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
Governor Serra underlined Carter's contribution in making human rights one of the main issues of US foreign policy when he occupied the White House between 1977 and 1981, which coincided with the democratic opening period of Brazil.
"Your human rights option had a profound and lasting impact in the evolution of international relations and played a leading role in helping to restore democracy in Latin America," said Serra.
Carter thanked the acknowledgement and also admitted that the US in the last few years, under the administration of president George W. Bush had lost positions in foreign policy because of the reiterated violations of war prisoners' human rights.
The former US leader who now heads the Carter foundation, which is dedicated to promoting human rights and democracy also met Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva when he requested a commitment for a greater access to government information, something on which the Brazilian bureaucracy has proved reluctant.
Before Brazil, Carter visited Peru, Bolivia and Chile where he proposed the three countries agree on granting a Pacific Ocean outlet for Bolivia.
"I'm hopeful Bolivia, Chile and Peru will jointly find a way to provide Bolivia with direct access to the sea," said Carter during his recent tour.
The issue, highly controversial and sensitive, "has undergone some advances," revealed Carter but "more efforts are needed."
The Chilean government state policy is that the issue is bilateral, non trilateral, although the three countries are involved.
The War of the Pacific, 1879-1883, was a conflict between Chile and the joint forces of Bolivia and Peru. Also known as the "Saltpeter War," the war arose from disputes over the control of territory that contained substantial mineral-rich deposits.
It ultimately led to the Chilean annexation of the Peruvian Tarapacá department and Arica province as well as the Bolivian department of Littoral, leaving Bolivia as a landlocked country.