Chilean Foreign Secretary María Soledad Alvear in a touching meeting today bestowed the former Superman actor Christopher Reeve with the Grand Cross of the Bernardo O'Higgins Order for his actions in favour of human rights.
The highest Chilean distinction is bestowed upon foreigners who have a distinguished participation in Chile in different fields, the arts, science, education, industry, commerce and human and social cooperation.
"Christopher Reeve was one of those human beings who in the zenith of their careers were willing to raise their voices for human rights in Chile, during some of the darkest years of our history and we've come to express our gratefulness with this distinction", said Ms. Alvear in the actor's resident in Bedford, Upstate New York.
In 1987 responding to an invitation from Chilean theatre author Ariel Dorfman, Mr. Reeve visited Chile to head a protest march in support of 77 Chilean actors who at the time were threatened by the military regime of General Augusto Pinochet.
For this action Mr. Reeve was honoured with two important distinctions from international human rights movements, the Obie Prize in 1988 and the Annual Walter Brielh Human Rights Foundation award.
Mr. Reeve said that the 1987 visit was in representation of the 37,000 members of the actors' guild which he then presided.
Recalling his Chilean experience he said that seeing the Chilean situation and the bravery of the protestors it changed the whole perspective of his profession, "I never again accepted censorship, I've since done what I wanted and said what I've felt".
The former actor says that Chile is now "a prosperous country that has earned with great sacrifice its freedom and I hope I can return some day to go angling".
"With this simple but emotive ceremony we're ratifying our commitment with democracy, human rights and peace. We're represent a country that is immensely grateful to all those who helped us overcome the horror of those years and now looks confident into the future, without forgetting its history", emphasized Ms. Alvear.
The former Superman now presides the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation since in 1995 when falling from a horse he irreversibly damaged his spinal cord.