Not Long Now: Stories of Chilean Soldiers in Haiti

 
 

Not Long Now: Stories of Chilean Soldiers in Haiti

In 2014 Oliver Contreras spends three weeks embedded with the Chilean soldiers of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) documenting the soldiers’ personal experiences and daily life. Accompanying them on missions, to orphanages, and while rebuilding roads and infrastructure throughout two cities, Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien, photojournalist Oliver Contreras portrays the soldiers as individuals functioning within the larger collective mission. Each soldier has a story to tell, and each soldier has insight to offer about the mission and its purpose in Haiti. This project brings to light the heroic yet untold stories of the men and women of the Chilean armed forces.

Who are the people behind the peacekeeping mission in Haiti? Who are these selfless men and women working to improve a country that is so far from home, and yet connected to them as a part of a larger Latin American identity? Portraying them as individuals and a part of the larger peacekeeping effort; each soldier has a story to tell and an insight to offer about the mission and its purpose. This project will bring to light the heroic and untold stories of the men and women of the Chilean armed forces in Haiti.

MINUSTAH is unique as a UN mission as it has been a majority Latin American led initiative since it’s inception. Chilean forces have been involved in the UN humanitarian mission in Haiti since the start. In the first decade of the 2000’s, a Chilean foreign minister led MINUSTAH for several years. However, Chile’s role changed dramatically after the earthquake that left Haiti devastated in 2010. As leaders in the mission and in the region, it’s important to portray and understand the Chilean experience and involvement in MINUSTAH in particular.

By showcasing the extraordinary men and women of the armed forces who are working to improve the situation of their brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, this project depicts the humanitarian military work of Latin American countries not often emphasized in the shadow of a tumultuous military past.

Nevertheless, this project neither demonizes nor canonizes the soldiers and their work. Rather, the intent is to be honest and faithful to the reality of life for these soldiers on the ground in Haiti from both the individual and collective perspectives seated within the larger MINUSTAH mission.