The Peace Corps pulls out of Peru
The Peace Corps has evacuated its Volunteers from Peru amid a political crisis that has included deadly crackdowns by the government on its citizens. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) released the following statement regarding the ongoing political violence in Peru. The decision comes after weeks of popular unrest against a government that has taken over following a failed December coup attempt by a Peruvian president facing impeachment. The South American country has had a politically tumultuous few years, cycling through several presidents amid various corruption and other scandals.
Peace Corps volunteers often work in areas far from national capitals and with less immediate protections than U.S. diplomats — meaning they are sometimes the first group of U.S. workers to be evacuated when unrest hits.
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Were the PCVs living and working far away from Lima in any way targeted by the unrest? Were they endangered locally?
Is the political unrest focused on the US government or US corporations etc?
You and I know these are among the questions that should be asked before a decision to evacuate PCVs
is made but decisions are sometimes made based on political and diplomatic reasons. I hope the newly
confirmed Peace Corps Director will provide as much information as she can in a public statement.
Take good care John.
As of June 28, 2022, there were a total of 12 PCVs serving in Peru. Two were Response Volunteers who usually have short term assignments, three to six months. There were 10 two year Volunteers in Peru as of that date. The decision about the evacuation came as a joint announcement from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID).
Last week, tourists were evacuated from Machu-Picchu. https://www.npr.org/2023/01/22/1150639853/peru-has-closed-off-machu-picchu-due-to-growing-anti-government-protests
I think the safety of Volunteers, as well as the safety of people with whom they may have been working is paramount. I hope the Peace Corps Director does NOT release any more information. While the Peace Coirps is an independent agency, the Director and Volunteers ultimately serve at the pleasure of the President.
While saddened by the political turmoil in Peru, the decision to evacuate young, unarmed volunteers was probably wise. Both Colombia and Peru have an unfortunate recent history of kidnapping foreigners for attention and ransom. Those in isolated mountainous areas have been especially at risk.
I note the announcement of the evacuation came from two Republicans on the Senate and the House committees dealing with
foreign affairs. The decision to evacuate is the sole responsibility of the Director of the Peace Corps. The announcement simply says what has happened, not anything else. I think the policy is not to announce the evacuation of Volunteers or indeed, any Americans, until the evacuation is complete.
I just wonder why the announcement came from these Committee heads and not from the Peace Corps. It may well be that Peace Corps simply notified Congress of the evacuation and the Republican House Committee Chair and the Republican Ranking Member of the Senate Committee decided to make the evacuation public.
The NPCA has a link to another source, where there is a Peace Corps spokeman quoted: https://www.politico.com/news/2023/01/30/peace-corps-peru-political-crisis-00080297?fbclid=IwAR0sb86CTS9DLD9T9huW8eYRpscpOYmMIJM2MPEECx8EaYirkAr1VzVFgpA