By Dialogo June 30, 2010 Best colonel ever! Chilean Air Force Col. Luis Silva Bravo, the director of Peace Operations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, leads his country’s efforts with United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Silva, who also is the advisor to the authorities in charge of the Armed Forces and Forces of Order, recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Infosurhoy.com about Chile’s role with MINUSTAH and other international bodies, including its role in the European Union’s stabilizing mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR). Silva: My work is to be concerned with all the staff on peace missions abroad, specifically in Haiti, the largest mission that we have, and in Bosnia, Cyprus where we have military forces and marines and military observers in the Middle East, India and Pakistan. Silva: Logistic support – in other words, food and fuel for our vehicles. We supply the cooks, but the UN delivers food to us based on a menu. And, in financial terms, the United Nations reimburses the country for its expenditures. Infosurhoy.com: What are the Chilean forces doing specifically to help in Haiti’s reconstruction? Infosurhoy.com: How many of staff members do you have working abroad? Infosurhoy.com: What’s the role of the Chilean Peace Forces, particularly in Haiti? Silva: The exact number is 563, and 520 are in Haiti, from all three branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, as well as Customs and Investigative Officers. Infosurhoy.com: Why is Chile’s role always so significant to UN missions? Is it because of the country’s neutrality? Silva: For example, the Company of Horizontal Building Engineers prepares lots so camps can be built and they [repair] roads and wells. Before these tasks were carried out solely for the benefit of our units, but now the task is being done to help the community. We have four helicopters to do outreach missions, such as [assist in] rescues, medical emergencies and transportation. Infosurhoy.com: What support does your staff receive from the United Nations? Silva: The United Nations provides the living quarters, which are closed off, keeping the forces isolated from the local population. But if there are emergencies, for example, medical emergencies, of course help is provided as needed. This special relationship has certainly given us some anecdotes: the barracks have exterior lights, which provide them with protection, and one time the commander of one decided to save energy and ordered the lights to be turned down. But the population living around those quarters protested immediately, because the younger neighbors took advantage of the lighting to study at night, since there was no electricity in their homes at night. Of course the lights were turned back up. Infosurhoy.com: Describe the living quarters in Haiti. Silva: The United Nations requests support from every country, and each one sends forces according to its capacity and competence. In this sense, Chile has performed its tasks very well. Infosurhoy.com: What’s the role of the military observers? Infosurhoy.com: What is your and Chile’s military role internationally? Silva: They oversee compliance with United Nations resolutions, for example, truces. Silva: Our “Chile Battalion” is there, in the northern region of the country, with 180 Army and 172 Navy [officers] whose mission is to provide security to the whole area by supporting local authorities against criminal gangs (as deterrents), which in the end has contributed to the overall stability of that nation. They also escort humanitarian aid convoys, mainly those of the UN. This cooperation implies protecting the Haitian police, not cooperating in military tasks, since the use of arms is prohibited, unless they are in danger.