Roberto Canessa is one of the significant people in this work. When the Fairchild crashes, Friday, October 13, 1972, the Uruguayan rugby team mourns the losses of their family and friends and begins to panic. Marcelo Perez emerges as the natural leader of the group; however, he dies in an avalanche. The team becomes more depressed and panics again. Luckily, Fernando Parrado and Roberto Canessa emerge as the new leaders. Canessa is one of the three doctors. He advises the team how to stay healthy and what they must do in order to survive.
Roberto Canessa gains respect not only from being a medical student, but also as an expeditionary. The expeditionaries are the ones who seek an escape from the Andes to find help. Canessa is the first to suggest the expeditionaries should receive larger portions of food. The team soon realizes the expeditionaries are the only chance they have of survival.
The team respects Canessa but does not necessarily get along with him. He is pessimistic. The team's morale is affected by his attitude. As a leader Canessa should be strong, optimistic and selfless; however, he does not have these characteristics. Instead, Canessa, Parrado, and Antonio Vizintin go on the final journey to find an escape. The entire team is really counting on them. Parrado constantly fights to keep going, but Canessa stops frequently and does not wish to continue. He is not consistent with his leadership role. Sometimes he has control over the team by keeping them healthy and having a dominant personality; however; other times he is weak and pessimistic.
In the team's situation food, cigarettes, and alcohol are scarce. The importance of tiny, equal portions is critical. Some teammates, such as Delgado, become selfish and steal extra food. Canessa puts himself before the rest of the team. He believes he should have more food than others. His actions are not perceived as those of a great leader.
Roberto Canessa is very inconsistent. He is perceived as a doctor, expeditionary and a great leader. He is also perceived as a person who gives up selfish and pessimistic.