By Aaron Humes: James Earl Carter, Jr. – known to all as “Jimmy” – 39th President of the United States and its longest-lived, has been nominated to receive the Order of Belize, the Government announced this evening.
President Carter, who will turn 98 on October 1, is expected to be conferred with the award on a date to be announced, “in recognition of his outstanding friendship and support to Belize.”
The Democratic former Governor of Georgia, in 1982, established the Carter Center to promote and expand human rights. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Center. He has travelled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, monitor elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Carter is also considered a key figure in the nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity.
The Carter Center led an initiative of its Council of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Americas urging governments in the region to pause before embarking on major arms purchases. Between April 1997 and March 1998, 28 current and 14 former heads of government signed a written pledge to accept a moratorium of two years on purchasing sophisticated weapons. Among the signatories were former Belize Prime Ministers Manuel A. Esquivel and George Price.
Carter and Price were long-time friends and colleagues and in 1997, Carter became the first and only U.S. President to visit Belize – mainly for vacation, which he spent in Belize City and San Pedro Town.
Carter would join a list of former and some current state leaders to receive the Order, ranked second-highest on Belize’s pyramid of national awards below the Order of the National Hero. These include former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and current President Tsai Ing-wen and former Mexican Presidents Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon. President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, was also up for the award on his now-postponed visit. Belizeans to have received the award include Philip Goldson and Curl Thompson.
Twenty Belizeans have received national awards in the annual Tribute to Belizean Patriots, to be covered in a separate story.