Re: extra PCVs
- Certainly, the Peace Corps needs adequate staff to support the
volunteers in the field. In my opinion, the primary responsibility
of Peace Corps staff is to assure the security of the volunteers.
However, as we all know, there is no 100% secure situation in any
developing nation and, in fact, our own cities. The world is
becoming a too dangerous planet.
This is precisely why we need a drastic increase in the amount of
volunteers throughout the developing world. Areas of extreme
poverty, within a world of plenty, are the breeding grounds of ill
health/nutrition, hatred and violence.
Each new volunteer has the oppportunity of making a small difference
both abroad and as a returned volunteer. If the selection process
fails to weed out those who would create a negative difference
abroad, it needs to improve. My guess, however, is that these cases
are relatively few and that the average American is capable of well
representing her/her country abroad and being of positive service to
the host countries.
The Peace Corps needs to remain extremely honest with its recruits
to inform them that, basically, PCVs will be on their own when
serving overseas and only when an area is deemed too dangerous, they
will be evacuated.
On the other hand, some would rather eliminate the Peace Corps in
favor of the US becoming the defacto police force of the world,
sending in CIA agents and Special Forces to eliminate any who would
cause us harm, either real or perceived; to protect our sources of
foreign natural resources and to support our international business
Tough balancing act for our political leaders and we citizens who
elect them to office.
> Generally speaking, I think that the concept of increasing thenumber of Peace Corps volunteers is a mistake. In my opinion, the
Washington headquarters is not capable of handling the extra staff.
I also feel that the selection process is being compromised.>
- The following is an excerpt from an article in the New York Times that
I believe was published in the paper in early August. (This information
was also posted on the Gabon discussion site this summer.) My opinions
as written in my previous message regarding Washington's inability to
handle extra PCVs stem from the information in this article.
Reported assaults on Peace Corps volunteers abroad more than doubled
over the last decade, and organizational problems in the agency may
be limiting its ability to ensure volunteers' safety, a study by the
General Accounting Office has found. President Bush has proposed
doubling the size of the Peace Corps, to 15,000 volunteers, and
expanding its presence to dangerous countries, including Afghanistan.
Critics say that since Sept. 11 Americans abroad face increased risks
and that expanding the Peace Corps presence might put volunteers in
harm's way. "I've been to Afghanistan, and it's a dangerous place
for a young person," said Representative Martin T. Meehan, Democrat
of Massachusetts, who requested the accounting office report after a
volunteer from his district, Walter J. Poirier, 22, of Lowell,
disappeared in February 2001. Mr. Poirier was working on a tourism
project in the Zongo Valley in Bolivia, three hours from La Paz.
Four volunteers have been killed since 1997 ((including Karen Philips
in Gabon, 1999)). Incidents of "major physical assault" on
volunteers, attacks with weapons or injuries, rose to 17 per 1,000 in
2000, up from 8 in 1991, the report said. In addition, "major sexual
assaults," including rape, fluctuated in that period, with a high of
12 in 1997 and a low of 8 in 1995.
The full extent of violence against volunteers may be significantly
higher because many crimes go unreported, the report said. The report
suggested that organizational problems in the Peace Corps were most
likely worsening the problem. A five-year employment limit for
supervisors, intended to keep the agency innovative, has resulted
in "a situation in which the agency staff are continually
`reinventing the wheel,' " the report said. The report also found
that directors in the 70 or so nations that have invited the Peace
Corps were largely autonomous, complicating the task of keeping tabs
on volunteers and ensuring safety. Most volunteers, Peace Corps
officials said, are in isolated locations. END
Below are my original comments regarding the topic. I will further
elaborate if necessary, but I stand behind the statements in the NY
> > Generally speaking, I think that the concept of increasing the
> number of Peace Corps volunteers is a mistake. In my opinion, the
> Washington headquarters is not capable of handling the extra staff.
> I also feel that the selection process is being compromised.>
- When I met with Sargent Shriver, earlier this year, he mentioned
that protecting the PCVs abroad was his most important function as
Peace Corps Director and the same responsibility was demanded of
each Country Director.
However, no one can provide 100% assurance that a PCV will not be
assaulted, no matter what the training or country supervision. It's
a dangerous job performed by some of our brightest and most able.
Recruits should be fully informed of the possible dangers and
trained on how best to avoid them.
The alternative is replacing the US Peace Corps with US Marines.
- As a RPCV, I tend to agree with you regarding some of your statements.
In terms of security, however, I think the solution is for Washington
to get its act together before the Peace Corps increases the number of
--- In gabondiscussion@y..., "Bob Utne" <bobutne@a...> wrote:
> When I met with Sargent Shriver, earlier this year, he mentioned
> that protecting the PCVs abroad was his most important function as
> Peace Corps Director and the same responsibility was demanded of
> each Country Director.
> However, no one can provide 100% assurance that a PCV will not be
> assaulted, no matter what the training or country supervision. It's
> a dangerous job performed by some of our brightest and most able.
> Recruits should be fully informed of the possible dangers and
> trained on how best to avoid them.
> The alternative is replacing the US Peace Corps with US Marines.
- My read is that no PCV or RPCV every thought "Washington has its act
together". Same situation exists in the FBI and every other Federal
agency that has offices in the field.
I spent six years working for a small office in the Executive Office
of the President and was based in Washington headquarters. We had
eight regional offices and those in the regional offices thought we
knew nothing about their needs or even gave a crap. They were right.
Ask the FBI agents in Arizona and Minnesota what they think of their
I'd rather have a stand up Country Director working his/her butt off
to protect his/her PCVs than rely on DC-based bureaucrats.