YouTube from The New Yorker: Coronavirus Evacuates Peace Corps Volunteers Mar 26 2020 Browse archives for March 26, 2020 2 Latest Comment Joanne Roll The reason Peace Corps gave for the evacuation was the cascading loss of travel opportunities. The Director reported the concern… Add your comment Posted in The Peace Corps
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From the view point of a former volunteer who was in a country that did evacuate from our bases during a possible political overthrow, but who stayed in-country for two weeks, the present world-wide evacuation and peace corps termination looks more like a failure to assess the reality of the coronavirus than the safety of the volunteers in the field. Peace Corps volunteers could just as easily have been held in their countries and even working to see whether the virus would ever reach their locality and in many cases the safest place in the world to be. instead they are terminated and flown back to epicenters in this country. the work of these volunteers is more important than the fear mongoring administrators running the peace corps.
The reason Peace Corps gave for the evacuation was the cascading loss of travel opportunities. The Director reported the concern was Volunteers needing medical attention would not be able to get it or if they needed to be medically evacuated, it would not be possible. Airports were being closed and flights canceled all over the world.
I do not think Peace Corps began to do enough to support the EPCVs once they arrived in the United States. However, I think that with every agency decision to suspend programs, close out countries and/or evacuate Volunteers, there are back stories which are not known for security reasons. So, I do not question these decisions. I don’t like them, but I don’t question them.
Peace Corps Colombia was closed in 1981 and the official story by Peace Corps was that Colombia had become a solid democratic country and Peace Corps was no longer needed. Thirty years later, the State Department cables between Peace Corps Colombia, Peace Corps Washington, the Colombian government and the US State Department were declassified and available online. I read them. The real concern was for the safety of the Volunteers and the need to close the program as quietly as possible.
Future generations will probably learn the real story for this massive evacuation. Today’s EPCVs can tell about it to their grandchildren.