“Juntos Podemos,” shouted Brigadier General Irene Zoppi, director for the Army Reserve engagement cell & deputy commanding general - Army Reserve for U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH), into a flock of microphones aimed at her during the closing ceremony of Hmanitarian Allied Forces 2019 (FAHUM).
Members of the media, military and nongovernmental personnel in attendance erupted into applause in an audible display of solidarity. Those words “Juntos Podemos”, which in English translate to Together We Can, are ARSOUTH’s slogan and represent the mission behind the multinational disaster-relief exercise, FAHUM 19, held in the Dominican Republic.
Brig. Gen. Zoppi, who is a native of Puerto Rico and learned English as a second language, spoke passionately about the importance of Latin American relations with the United States.
“The challenge that natural disasters represent for our social structures calls for us to maintain the forged relationship between all who have participated in this exercise,” said Brig. Gen. Zoppi. “Strengthening our trust and cooperation between us will allow us to assure a response to the disasters of the hemisphere.”
Over 100 national disaster-relief experts from 13 Latin American countries participated in the exercise, rehearsed and refined disaster-relief protocols in large-scale simulations.
“We try to put into practice civil and military responses to emergencies that could affect our country,” said Brigadier General Juan Manuel Méndez García, director of the Emergency Operations Center for the Dominican Republic, in a press conference where he called on Dominican Republic citizens to participate in the exercise. “For us to be better prepared, we want to simulate an earthquake across the country,” said Brig. Gen. Méndez.
Brig. Gen. Zoppi, senior ARSOUTH representative for FAHUM 19, expressed the importance of such large-scale preparedness at the closing ceremony of the exercise.
In Spanish, Brig. Gen. Zoppi said “a natural disaster of great magnitude does not have borders as it can impact not only one country but also a complete region.”
“This without any doubt will generate the need to provide an effective response for the entire region and will only be efficient if we plan and train ahead of any natural disaster to come,” she added.
Brig. Gen. Zoppi, who speaks four languages, noted that being culturally diverse and culturally aware, helps to enhance the relations and efficiency of exercises like FAHUM 19.
“We must continue to work together in partnership by broadening our perspective and learning from each other,” said Brig. Gen. Zoppi.
ARSOUTH and its Latin American partner nations have collaborated for 20 years at similar disaster-relief exercises and exercise FAHUM 2020 is currently set to occur in Costa Rica.
“The meaning of cooperation, collaboration and solidarity is all about harnessing the power of one. Juntos Podemos. Together We Can!”