Gabriel Valdés Subercaseux
Bicentennial Award
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Bicentennial Award 2001: Nicanor Parra.
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Bicentennial Award
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May 2002
Gabriel Valdés, Bicentennial Award 2002:
A great man of our culture
The awarded Senator made some compromises for the cultural field.

"With all these speeches, I feel I am the one who's turning bicentennial", joked Gabriel Valdés during the ceremony to honor his award as the Bicentennial Person 2002. Luis Riveros, Universidad de Chile's principal said, "we have a long lasting Gabriel Valdés", and proposed the senator to create a tax-exemption law for Science and Investigation.

The senator not only accepted the challenge but also announced the presentation of a law project to modify the current Monuments Act, full of gaps that allow the destruction of heritage buildings because of the lack of incentives for its maintenance.

In a long thanking-speech, Valdés talked about the lack of a Chilean sense of identity, calling for the recovery of the concept of "nation" and saying that a country's performance should be based on economical growth and a solid cultural identity. The senator said he was concerned about a poll where most of the people said there "was nothing typically Chilean". "It is a proof of a ferocious uprooting", he thinks.

José Miguel Insulza, Minister of the Interior, said that Gabriel Valdés has "given an example to younger generations, even to myself when I was a young political leader". Sculptor Sergio Castillo said he thought of Valdés as a "Renaissance patron" and Milan Ivelic, National Fine Arts Museum Director, described him as somebody who "has always been concerned for looking culture work as a fundamental thing". Cecilia García Huidobro, Chile's Cultural Heritage Corporation vice-president, thinks, "nothing would have been possible without the Valdés Law (tax-exemption for Cultural Donations)".

The jury was composed by members of the Board of Chile's Cultural Heritage Corporation, Minera Escondida and Universidad de Chile, along with the President of Bicentennial Heritage Commission and of the Bicentennial Presidential Commission. Together, they stuck to the criteria of finding "someone whose work has made a difference for the country concerning culture, thought and the well-being of its inhabitants, widely representing the Republican spirit through his or her legacy".

Gabriel Valdés has dedicated all his life to public service through several positions, including the Foreign Affairs Ministry (1964-1970), General Sub secretary for the United Nations (1971-1981) and President of the Senate (1990-1996). In the cultural fields it is especially remarkable his work as counselor for the Vicente Huidobro Foundation. A great studious of our History, he has a deep sense of selflessness for the country's well being. He has always contributed to the most important social debates, be them about politics, economy, society or culture.

The award is a sculpture that reproduces the now lost bridge of Cal y Canto. It was made on bronze by the artist Juan Sebastián Solar.

A brief resume of his work

Chilean, lawyer with a degree by Universidad de Chile, PhD in Law by the Political Science Institute of Paris. Professor of Economical Law of Universidad Católica de Chile. Founder and director of the Iron and steel Latin-American Institute. Foreign Affairs Minister during Eduardo Frei Montalva´s administration (1964-1970). He was the first Foreign Affairs Minister to be invited to European Parliament to talk about intercontinental cooperation.

He was the President of the Latin American Economical Council which, in 1969 got together for the first time all of Latin-American's Foreign Affairs Ministers whose agreement was presented to president Nixon at the White House. In 1971 he was named General Sub secretary for the United Nations, a position he held for ten years, becoming director of the Cooperation Program, creating a wide net for the international assistance in the fields of Science, Technology, Social Sciences and Cultural Development. In 1978, in Buenos Aires, he organizes the Latin-American Forum and becomes its President. Between 1975 and 1985 he receives several international awards for international cooperation.

He has been part of the jury for the Asturias Prince Award. In 1990 he was elected senator and the President of the Senate for the first six years of the return to democracy period. In 1998 he was reelected with the country's highest majority.

Since 1996 he is the president of the Chilean Parliamentarian Commission for the dealing of the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. He is now working on the deepening of the reform to Mercosur. He is the author of a number of books.

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