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Soldier’s murder marks first Chilean death in Haiti

Published: 06-20-12

First Sergeant Guillermo Arévalo of the Chilean Navy died Sunday morning after being brutally attacked and shot four times while leaving a restaurant in suburban Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Saturday.

Arévalo was part of the defense attaché for the Chilean embassy in Haiti. Apart from Arévalo there are also several hundred soldiers from Chile’s Armed Forces who are currently serving in Haiti as part of the UN’s peacekeeping mission (MINUSTAH) in the country. In addition to Chile, many other countries have deployed armed forces to Haiti, with the total number of foreign troops in the country nearing 11,000. In the eight years Chile has been a part of MINUSTAH, Arévalo is the country’s first casualty.

Arévalo’s death has prompted several Chilean senators to question the country’s role in Haiti. Sen. Juan Antonio Coloma from Chile’s far-right Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party, expressed his support for reevaluating Chile’s objectives in Haiti.

“It shouldn’t be a drastic revision,” he said. “The least we could do would be to consider in greater detail what the objective of Chile’s military presence in Haiti is.” 

Coloma’s sentiments were not shared by all in Congress.

“The death of a member of the Air Force is unfortunate, but it shouldn’t cause us to question the real reason for our troops’ presence in Haiti, which is to bring peace to the country,” Jose Pizarro of Chile’s center-left Christian Democrat (DC) party said.

Others including Eugenio Tuma of Chile’s liberal Party for Democracy (PPD) and Carlos Kuschel of Chile’s center-right National Renewal (RN) party have also been outspoken in their support of Chile’s sustained presence in Haiti.

MINUSTAH is unique in that it is the first UN operation that has been led predominantly by troops from Latin American countries, notably Chile and Brazil. The UN’s peacekeeping presence in Haiti commenced in 2004, following the coup d’etat that ousted President Bertrand Aristide. Chile's participation is expected to continue through 2017.

Last month, Chile’s Senate voted to extend the presence of Chilean troops in Haiti through June 1, 2013, with a vote of 31 in favor and seven against. 

By Chris Clark (clark@santiagotimes.cl)
Copyright 2012 – The Santiago Times

un_peacekeepers

The death of First Sergeant Guillermo Arévalo has prompted discussion on Chile’s role in UN peacekeeping efforts in Haiti. (Photo by United Nations Photo/Flickr)

Reprinted from : http://www.santiagotimes.cl/world/chile-abroad/239