Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias receives Bates degree

Former president of Costa Rica Oscar Arias told 472 Bates College graduates that the future of the world lies in “the defense of humanitarian values” at Monday’s outdoor commencement exercises before a crowd of 3,500.

Arias chided world leaders “who show more concern for expanding global markets than for investing in education, affordable housing and health care. Both in the United States and abroad, social welfare systems are being unraveled in the name of balancing the budget.

“…I feel that it is unacceptable that the richest country on earth has the highest level of poverty and the most unequal income distribution in the industrialized world.”

Arias received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Bates College along with law school professor, activist and writer Derrick A. Bell, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania Kathleen Hall Jamieson, lawyer and arts advocate Philip M. Isaacson Bates class of 1947 and marine biologist Jane Lubchenco.

Arias received the Nobel Peace Prize for his dedicated efforts to bring peace to Central America. In 1986, he was elected president of Costa Rica. He assumed office at a time of great regional discord. The fall of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and the introduction of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua had been a source of strife in Central America.

He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, the Martin Luther King Peace Prize and the Liberty Medal, recognizing his continued contributions to the cause of social justice.

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