17 March 2011

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, Dedicating Monument to Fallen Guatemalan ‘Blue Helmets’,


Hails States’ Growing Recognition of United Nations Peacekeeping


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the inauguration of the monument in memory of Guatemalan soldiers who have lost their lives in the cause of peacekeeping, in Guatemala City, today, 17 March:

Today we honour all of the brave Guatemalans who died while serving the United Nations.  This is a day for their loved ones, the wives and mothers, the other family members and friends who still live with the sadness.  This is a day for Guatemala, to mourn these heroes but also to be proud of their lasting contribution to peace.  And it is a day for the United Nations.  These courageous Guatemalans were members of our United Nations family.  We mourn along with you.

They showed what the United Nations stands for.  Peacekeeping is one of our flagship activities in pursuit of collective security.  When there is trouble, the burden is shared among different countries.  Today reminds us this burden is not borne by countries; ultimately it falls on individuals.

Let me now read the names of the individuals we honour today.  Celso Martinez, Calixto Gomez Perez, Teodoro Tilom Paau, Ramon Xi Che, Edgar Morales Guzman, Orlando Hernandes Alonzo, Valeriano Rax Hul, Abelino Pop, Mario Enrique Tec Caal, Mirna Patricia Rodas Arreola, Rafael Emilio Folgar Lopez.

Let us remember their courage, their sacrifice and their dedication to the ideals of the United Nations Charter.

Eight of the men died in an ambush while trying to help stabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I call on the Congolese authorities to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous and cowardly attack to justice.  In that incident and so many others, we see the grave risks that accompany United Nations peacekeeping.  But there are also enormous rewards.  Peacekeepers protect civilians.  They take streets back from gangs.  They move whole societies from chaos to calm.

Guatemala understands this, as one of very few countries that have both received peacekeepers and sent their own troops to help others in conflict.  More and more countries recognize the value of United Nations peacekeeping.  We have 120,000 military and police deployed in 15 different theatres.  And the number of troop contributors — 115 — is unprecedented.

As we gather here, more than 300 Guatemalan peacekeepers are deployed in six missions, with large contingents in both Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  They are proving that we cannot be stopped by attacks.  They are showing the best of Guatemala to the world.  And they are carrying on the work of the fallen Guatemalan peacekeepers we remember today.

I dedicate this monument with prayers for their peaceful rest.  Their lives may be over but their legacy endures, inspiring us all to keep fighting for peace.

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For information media • not an official record