04/21/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
Sting, 49, was decorated by the Chilean government on Monday, for his role in defending human rights during Gen. Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 dictatorship. "Sting made an important contribution to informing the world about our country's situation in prior decades," Reuters quotes Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear as saying at the presentation of the award, which was named for Chilean poet and Nobel Prize in literature winner Gabriela Mistral. Sting's 1987 song, "They Dance Alone," referred to the mothers who disappeared during the dictatorship. As Sting told reporters, "When I met the mothers last night . . . I realized that they have taken the place of my own mother who died many years ago.