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Michael Greeley ( -
Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 5:09 am:   

Hello everyone!! I just recently came upon some interesting information regarding countries that have set the Peace Corps home. Those countries are : Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ceylon, Gabon, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Peru, Somalia, South Korea, Tanzania, and Turkey. I am pretty familiar with the Bolivia case, but the rest of them I am not. If anyone here could send me in the right direction, so I could get more information about why the peace corps was sent home..that would be really great.
RPCV ( -
Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 12:15 pm:   

PC wasn't necessarily "sent home". In some cases, the pcvs were evacuated, the program suspended - possibly closed - and reopened in later years. Some closings and suspensions were the result of a change in political regime that did not want the PC in country, some due to short lived civil unrest, and others due to having reached a point for graduating the program, either budgetary concerns and/or the country having emerged from "developing" status (e.g., South Korea, for example, for political reasons at the time of closing but also having reached a high level of development). I wouldn't make presumptions about Bolivia based soley on the recent and tragic incident of the missing volunteer.

Country closing and suspension reports should be on file with PC and accessible through FOIA.

If you want an example of PC being "sent home" - sent packing would be more accurate - check out the program in Russia. PC should not have tried so hard to stay where it wasn't wanted. In the end, PC was unceremoniously booted from country.
Michael Greeley ( -
Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 7:41 pm:   

Yes, in some cases the Peace Corps left because it was in their best interest or their time was just up. At this point, I am aware of three cases where this applies and that would be in Panama, Nigeria and Uganda The Panama government essentially told the Peace Corps they weren’t needed anymore, but it had nothing to do with job performance. They left on good terms. In the Nigeria case, the Peace Corp left because it was no longer safe for the volunteers. In the Uganda, it was also no longer safe.

What I am interested in most is why there was this all the sudden expulsion of the Peace Porps during 1966-71. The countries that this applies to are: Indonesia, Ceylon, Libya, Mauritania, Gabon, Somalia, Turkey, Tanzania, Bolivia, and Malawi

In these cases, the Peace Corps did not leave on good terms. The reasons appear to vary depending on the country. Starting in 1966, Guinea was the first country to send the Peace Corps home, because the president of the country had accused the United States of promoting the government of Ghana to mistreat Guinean officials who passed through that neighboring country. In 1966, the Indonesian President kicked the Peace Corps out. In 1967, the government of Gabon told the 57 Peace Corps volunteers to go home and the reason is unknown. Also, in 1967, Mauritania sent the Peace Corps out because they disapproved of the US supporting the Israel Six Day war. Still, in 1967, Ceylon kicked the Peace Corps out because they became upset when Nationalization of American businesses brought about the cessation of AID grants and loans. In 1969, the president of Malawi told the Peace Corps to get out because of the volunteers bad conduct. In Peru, by 1966 Peace Corps volunteers started being kicked out until in 1975 when the government accused PCVs of spying. In 1969, apparently US foreign policy caused an erosion of the Peace Corps, until they were kicked out of Tanzania. The reasoning tends to be related to, too many teachers, and not enough technically experienced personal. Tanzania also disapproved of the Vietnam War. Finally, last but not least, in 1971, the Bolivian government sent the Peace Corps home because of their push on family planning. The movie, “Blood of the Condor” also helped spawn a considerable amount of anti-American animosity, which also played a part in the expulsion of the Peace Corps.

So I don’t know anything about the Iran, Libya, Somalia, Burkina Faso, South Korea, and Malaysia.

This topic interests me a lot so any all information you could give me would be more than helpful. Thanks
Hugh Pickens - Peru 1970 - 73 ( -
Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 10:53 pm:   

"In Peru, by 1966 Peace Corps volunteers started being kicked out until in 1975 when the government accused PCVs of spying."
Peace Corps Volunteers did not start getting kicked out of Peru in 1966 and in 1974, when the Peace Corps left, there was never any accusation of spying by the government or by the local media.

I was in Peru (though not in the Peace Corps) in 1974 when Juan Velasco Alvarado, the General who led the coup in 1968 to depose elected President Fernando Belaúnde Terry, held a press conference and in response to a question from the press about the Russian military advisors the government had invited to Peru, announced in a fit of rage that he didn't want to hear any more questions about Russian advisors and that he was expelling American advisors (the Peace Corps) from the country immediately. It didn't make any sense then and it still doesn't make any sense.

President Velasco was a very ill man at the time having suffered an aneurysm and leg amputation in 1973 and Velasco was himself deposed by a military coup on August 29, 1975 after a series of strikes and demonstrations against his government. General Francisco Morales Bermúdez, who had been Prime Minister under Velasco, was sworn in as President and Velasco died in 1977. Morales Bermúdez's government later announced that the country would be returned to democratic rule in 1980 and in an ironic twist when elections were held, Fernando Belaúnde Terry, the man Velasco had overthrown in 1968, was re-elected President.

If you'd like to do more research on the fascinating period of leftist military rule in Peru from 1968 - 1980, I'd recommend La Revolución por Decreto (1989) by Dirk Kruijt, El Reformismo Burgues (1978) edited by Mirko Lauer, or Golpe o Revolución? Hablan los Militares del 68 (1983) by Maria del Pilar Tello. I think you will find when you start looking at the Peace Corps country by country that the reasons for Peace Corps' departure are not always simple but may involve a complex interplay of many factors.

Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 11:37 pm:   

Ahh, your objective is more clear to me now ... However ... As for politically related motivations, you'll need to carefully consider the facts,identify pure specualtion and discount rumor ... When a government wants PC out, it might couch its rationale diplomatically or, on the the other hand, in unsubstantiated and ridiculous accusations such as "spying".

Perhaps you're interested in a particular region or historical period. If you're considering recent experiences as well, look into Russia. It would apprear that while locals appreciated PCV assistance, government officials in the ministry of education did not. They rationalized their opposition to the PC program based on insufficient expertise, rumors of spying and on Russia not being a developing country located in Africa (read "pride"). President Putan refused to intervene as currently serving PCVs and staff were denied visa renewals and the low and mid-level bureaucrats demanded bribes at every step. Russia is an excellent and recent case study of corrupt and politically charged obstacles to a PC program, fresh in PC's insitutional memory and with the best accessible data. The acting CD who served througout much of the controversy is currently the administrative officer with PC/Philippines.
MG ( -
Posted on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 11:26 pm:   

To Hugh Pickens,

According to a study done by Cambridge written in 1966, four volunteers were ejected from the Peace Corps program in Peru due to an experimental English program in 1963 ( Sorry, I said 1966 but I was referring to when the study was published) that was apparently misinterpreted. At that time, it appears as though, Huamanga students said the Peace Corps needed to be completely kicked out. I don’t know who these student are though. There is a much more complex story here involving a powerful student political faction, and for the most part, I do not know all the details. I am still doing a lot of researching. In any case, according to an article in the Washington Post written in 1974, the government of Peru had requested that all one hundred and 37 members of the Peace Corps, needed to be withdrawn as soon as possible. That article states that the state department of the United States denied that President Alvarado said that some of the Peace Corps volunteers were CIA agents. Then later, in 1975, when the Peace Corps finally left, there is a report in InterACTION, saying that Government controlled newspapers, in Peru, charged some members of the Peace Corps as data gathers for the CIA. Now, you might have been there, and might have a different opinion, but I am just simply stating what the history trail says. Something must have been going on if 11 other countries sent the Peace Corps home during 1966-1971. The Peru case appears to have started in 1963, and the expulsion just never occurred until much later. I am not dead set sure what happened. Like I said, I am just stating the quick over view I have done at this point. You bring up interesting points though, and you are very right, the Peace Corps departures will vary from country to country, but can trends be considered? Where cultural misunderstanding an underlining problem in all of those cases? In the Bolivia case, I can say yes, the Peace Corps did not seem to recognize that birth control would not be culturally accepted in Bolivia. The Peace Corps did not appear to make this mistake on purpose, since they had intended on empowering women with their sexually, and also control the populaton. How this stands for the many other departures, we will have to wait and see what I find.

Please sent me an email, I would enjoy keeping the lines of communications open, and will send you the sources I have if you like.


This Russia case you mention is amazing!! I am very interested. Can you please send me in a direction where I could get information about this most recent departure. I would consider looking into this and seeing if some of the same circumstances, relating to past departures, are still hurting the Peace Corps. Russia is also a very interesting partner in American history, from ally to enemy, to ally…Thanks for mentioning this…Please do continue this conversation with me, and email me if you like.
Hugh Pickens - Peru 1970 - 73 ( -
Posted on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 2:29 pm:   

Dear Michael Greeley,

The teaching services of four Peace Corps Volunteers at the University of Huamanga in Ayacucho were terminated in October 1963 and the volunteers were reassigned to other duties. The history of the incident is presented in Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps edited by Robert B. Textor (MIT Press 1966) in Chapter 14 "Expulsion from a Peruvian University" by David Scott Palmer. Dr. Palmer was one of the volunteers involved at Huamanga and went on to become Chairman of the Department of Political Science and founder of the Latin American Studies Program at Boston University. He has published many articles about contemporary Peruvian politics and history and was one of only four Americans invited to testify before Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2003.

I think you may be overgeneralizing about the situation in Peru from 1963 to 1974. There really seems to be no causative connection or even correlation between what took place in the remote city of Ayacucho in 1963 and the Velasco Alvarado press conference that took place in Lima eleven years later. You may want to contact Dr. Palmer directly at Boston University and see what he says about the Huamanga incident with forty years hindsight. Dr. Palmer was invited back to lecture at the University of Huamanga in 1998 - 35 years after he was expelled from the University so his views would be both informed and current.

There is one other potential connection with the Ayacucho incident that you may want to pursue in your research that I have never seen mentioned in the books I have read about Peru in the 1960's and 1970's. When Abimael Guzmán was captured in 1992, I was surprised to learn that he had been a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Huamanga at the same time as the Peace Corps incident. It would be very interesting for someone to find out what Guzmán's involvement was in the incident or if there was any involvement. Guzmán founded the subversive group "Por el Sendero Luminoso de José Carlos Mariátegui" in Ayacucho in 1966 and Sendero began its armed struggle fourteen years later with an attack on an isolated rural polling station in Ayacucho province on May 18, 1980. His group was ultimately responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of Peruvian citizens during the 1980's before Guzmán was captured in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the reasons for Peace Corps' departure from any country may involve a complex interplay of many factors - political, cultural, and sociological. The point I am making is that I am not sure you are going to find a common factor in the expulsions between 1966 and 1971. I concur with "RPCV (" that it may be more fruitful to do an in-depth study of the most recent Peace Corps expulsion - the 2002 departure from Russia - rather than try to reconstruct what happened in Peru or Indonesia 40 years ago. Many of the primary source documents on the Russian departure are available on this website here and here, there has been a lot of discussion of the events by RPCVs who served in Russia and you may be able to interview some of the principal players involved like Jeffrey Hay who "RPCV (" reports is still with the Peace Corps. You could also contact the US Peace Corps and FOIA the final report on the Russian departure that should have been done by the IG's office and which, to my knowledge, has never been published. Keep in mind also that much of your primary source material will not be available in English, so if you read Russian or Spanish that will dictate to an extent which countries you decide to concentrate on in your study.

Good luck on your research. Your final report, if properly done, will be an invaluable contribution to Peace Corps scholarship and will be useful to the Peace Corps itself and to future staff. Unfortunately, one of the unintended consequences of the "five year rule" is the Peace Corps' short institutional memory but I am sure your completed report will be accepted for publication on this website (just as other examples of original research on the Peace Corps like Joanne Roll's reconstruction of the 1977 kidnapping of Colombia PCV Richard Starr have been in the past) where it will be available for discussion by the RPCV community and as a reference for future Peace Corps generations.

Thank you for an interesting and thought provoking discussion. I look forward with great anticipation to reading your final report.

Best Regards,

Hugh Pickens
Peru 1970 - 73

Michael Greeley ( -
Posted on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 8:42 pm:   

Well...the 1963 termination at the University, could very well have nothing to do with the PC departure in 1974-75. They are probably two seperate issues.

Since you appear to be interested in this topic, here is an article you might want to consider reading about the Bolivia case.

Well. Hugh...this is really quite amazing..I ran into you. Your knowledge about this topic is amazing...My project will roughly take me about a year to complete..and when it is done, I will gladly let you read the final version. In fact, the final project will be accessable to all. In the meantime, thanks for the information. Can you please email me when you have a we can communicate more often. Those links you gave me are perfect. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of this stuff about explusions is not very easy to find.

Hugh Pickens 1970 - 73 ( -
Posted on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 9:18 pm:   

Thanks, that story is here on the site as well as this one on the same subject. A list of articles that contain critiques of the Peace Corps is available here. Keep in mind that many of the articles in the list contain erroneous information and are included in the list for reference only.

Best Regards,


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