Michael D Higgins awarded Peru’s highest honour
President and Peruvian leader pledge to deepen bilateral relations between countries
President Michael D Higgins was decorated with the Order of the Sun by Peru’s president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in Lima on Friday. Photograph: Luis Guillen
President Michael D Higgins was awarded Peru’s highest honour on Friday after bilateral talks with his counterpart Pedro Pablo Kuczynski at Lima’s presidential palace.
The honour – the Order of the Sun, or el Orden del Sol – was given to Mr Higgins in recognition of “his interest in the defence and promotion of human rights, peace, democracy and inclusive citizenship, as well as culture”, Mr Kuczynski said.
After holding talks in private both leaders pledged to deepen bilateral relations and co-operation between the nations. A Peruvian embassy is to open soon in Dublin and Mr Higgins’s visit is the first by an Irish head of State to the South American country.
The presidents agreed to strengthen human capital and improve technological co-operation between the countries. A declaration of intent between Peru’s National Scholarship and Educational Loan Program and University College Cork was signed.
Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, who is also in Peru, signed along with his counterpart a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a political consultation mechanism between Peru and Ireland. This allows for regular high-level meetings on issues of common interest.
He paid tribute to Mr Higgins as a “champion of labour rights” and a promoter of Gaelic, adding that the Irish had left a legacy throughout both North and South America.
Mr Higgins, who spoke in Irish, Spanish and English, said he and Mr Kuczynski had “positive conversations to discuss the old connections between our two peoples” and had found “many, many, many news areas of co-operation”.
He added that the historic link between the Irish and Peruvian peoples dated back to the role played by Irish citizens in the independence struggles and nationalist movements in Peru and other Latin American countries.
The President highlighted Peru’s ancient culture, remarking that the “symmetry between nature and human beings is something that is not new in Peru”.
On Thursday, Mr Higgins gave a keynote speech focused on the legacy of Irish independence hero Roger Casement, highlighting his pioneering contribution to the defence of human dignity and individual rights in Peru and other countries in South America.
On Saturday, the President continues his 10-day official tour. He is travelling to Bogota in Colombia, where he is expected to give an address on the country’s peace process.
The Irish delegation is then scheduled to travel to Cuba for the last leg of the tour.