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OAS Secretary General Honored with Guatemala’s Cambio de la Rosa de la Paz

  September 18, 2014

Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General José Miguel Insulza was honored today with the Cambio de la Rosa de la Paz, bestowed by the government of Guatemala on citizens or foreigners for outstanding performance in the political, cultural, social, or economic arenas that have made a valuable contribution to Guatemalan society and to the lofty cause of peace.

Secretary General Insulza said in his acceptance speech that "peace is not only the end of war but is also learning to live in a culture of peace and respect; it is tolerating differences; it is agreeing to disagree; and it is finding solutions through consensus and civic friendship."

Speaking at the ceremony held at the Presidential Palace, Minister of Culture Carlos Enrique Batzin, Deputy Foreign Minister Rodrigo Vielmann, and Ambassador Arabella Woolfolk in their remarks praised the OAS Secretary General’s political career both in Chile and internationally. 

In reflecting on the importance of the honor – which cites the Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace, signed in 1996 between the government of Alvaro Arzu and Guatemalan Revolutionary Unit (URNG) and which ended a painful period of the country’s history – the OAS leader contrasted the Guatemalan experience in the 1980s with Chile’s experience the previous decade. He said the agreement that Guatemalans reached had "strengthened the peace that Guatemala yearned for" and ended the dramatic history of violence this country had experienced. From that standpoint, he said, "I very much understand its significance, because I belonged to a generation that learned, the very hard way, the value of peace." 

In the early 1970s his country "experienced internal peace, with a lot of social mobilization but with respect for democratic principles; but this all broke down on September 11, 1973,” the head of the hemispheric organization recalled. “They were years of pain and suffering until we restored peace in my country," he said, "so I thank you, and appreciate the value of this ceremony."

Whenever he defined what a culture of peace was, Secretary General Insulza said it also meant "overcoming poverty and inequality; providing everyone with conditions to develop his or her skills; and working to end the violence and insecurity that come with organized crime." It's a tough job, he warned, "but one we will always be focused on and engaged in, so that, in this never-ending struggle, human beings can experience harmonious coexistence, development, justice, and peace."

The symbolic monument located in the National Palace’s Courtyard of Peace, was unveiled on December 29, 1997. It consists of two clasped bronze hands holding a white rose that is changed out on a regular basis. The honor conferred at this ceremony has sometimes been bestowed on national or international personalities, as is the case today.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-383/14