The Pain of Being Away at a Crucial Moment

By Dialogo
April 01, 2010

I want to know that answer
Chile contributes personnel to the 18-country U.N. peacekeeping force in Haiti and has played an important role in humanitarian aid operations following the January 12 earthquake. But while Chilean troops were assisting the Haitian people, their own country suffered a massive earthquake on February 27, 2010, and the Chilean Armed Forces were called upon to assist their own citizens as well.
“For us it was a great feeling of powerlessness, because you always want to help, but that need is even greater when it’s your own country,” said Lt. Aviator Gonzalo Zalazar of the Chilean Air Force, part of the MINUSTAH contingent. “What’s most important, in the end, is moral support, for your family and for people like your friends and acquaintances. I believe that at least we were able to provide that, which is fundamental.”
The Chileans who form part of the community of U.N. troops in Haiti work throughout the country, including in Gonaïves with the Argentine battalion, in Legales in the southeast with the Uruguayans, and also with the Peruvians who patrol the border with the Dominican Republic.
“There is quite a significant system of integration and a deep level of unity. We work very closely with military personnel from a number of countries and carry out missions with almost all the contingents, in a super-integrated way, without any problems and completely without barriers. They all showed themselves to be very professional and friendly when the earthquake happened in Chile, and that was very important for us,” Lt. Gonzalo Zalazar said.