The liberty of protest

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: May 16, 2003 - The Nation: Protest at the Peace Corps : The liberty of protest

By Ken Rustad on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 5:14 pm: Edit Post

The right to protest is one of the liberties the United States is about. PCVs protesting against going to war in Iraq would have shown the world what real liberties are all about. The planned protest in the Dominican Republic would not have been an embarrassment for the Peace Corps but for the Bush Administration. A big fear in smaller countries is that the United States is turning into a global bully (transgressor of sovereignty.)

Some day a group of Peace Corps volunteers will protest and be sent home. That will make the issue even bigger. This time the adminstration scared them off but the next time could become a major global incident.

By AEMcLaughlin on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 5:50 pm: Edit Post

WHAT???!!! **Peace** Corps volunteers protesting for PEACE???!! What is the world coming to???!!

This story says more about the agenda of the Peace Corps than anything else... We all know, just like the USAID, the Peace Corps agenda is to further U.S. economic and political policies. Helping other people is an incidental, not an integral mission of the Peace Corps. If it were, they would be doing more than teaching English and business skills. I am an RPCV...

By Bill Piatt on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 6:47 pm: Edit Post

The reality of the overseas situation is that host country citizens see Peace Corps as an official USG activity, which it is. Anything any volunteer does is interpreted as being an act of an official representative of the US, which volunteers really are whether that is the role they want to be cast in or not.

I empathize with the protesters' desire to express their political opinions, but disagree that they should do so in a country that has granted them a visa, housing and status that flows directly from the fact that the USG is sponsoring and supporting their presence. Personal opinion shared with colleagues and friends is one thing; public display of political opinion that is designed to become a newsworthy event is out of bounds and inconsistent with Peace Corps' apolitical foundation.

A thirteen year veteran of Peace Corps on 3 continents...

By peterarellanes on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 6:52 pm: Edit Post

With all due respect, I'm not sure that PCV's being sent home for a peace protest would become a "major global incident." We really are only a tiny piece of the development/geopolitical puzzle after all.

I also think the notion that the U.S. somehow imposes English teachers and business PCV's on the rest of the world is something of a misconception. PC responds to the needs for technical assistance expressed by the countries in which it works. On the contrary, I think PC does a good job at convincing these countries that a B.A. in English can, for example, be an effective ag extensionist (in many cases, more effective than someone with a B.S. in Ag Science). These "generalists" are the lifeblood of PC.

By Bill Wilson on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 9:34 pm: Edit Post

As a nominee who has been lectured at length about the absolute need to blend into the host country society and do everything to be as unprovocative as possible, I'm frankly a little confused about the confusion. Wouldn't a protest of any kind naturally politicize the people and organization that so desperately tries to avoid politics?

If you want to talk about Freedom of speech issues, try starting with the PCV websites that have been shut down. Now that is an issue worth protesting.

By Jim Brown on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 9:48 am: Edit Post

I feel it's immature and irresponsible for Peace Corps Volunteers overseas to protest against their own government in a public demonstration. If they want to express their views privately to individuals, fine, but they need to remember the reason they were sent overseas. Also being overseas, they may not fully understand certain policies or the reasons for these policies, as many Americans in the U.S. did not and acted on much misinformation. In fact, one of the responses I read on this site, mentioned the war for oil. This was not a war for oil! This war had to do with the fact that Saddam Huseim was a ruthless dictator, abused human rights, had connections with terrorists and did have a history of producing weapons of mass destruction. The main reason for the war in Iraq had to do with the fact that Saddam Husein was required to do certain things after he lost the Gulf War and never followed through. So how much time do you give him? 15 years, 20 years, 50 years?

By Dave the PCV on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 12:10 am: Edit Post

The handbook says that you have to refrain from expressing political opinions that deal with the HOST COUNTRY. But, as an American citizen, a PCV is guanteed the right to express an opinion about their government's foreign policy (in this case the war in Iraq) in the same mannner they would if at home in the states. Any public statements or actions have to be approved by the Country Director and they can only censor something if they can show it will affect the credibility of PC in the host country. The problem is, a CD can stop a protest or statement until the event (i.e. the war in iraq) is over and protest/statements are irrelevant.

By Bob Imlah on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 4:03 am: Edit Post

This demo in the DR reminds me of an anti-Vietnam War protest that we Turkey PCVs participated in in October 1969 on the steps of the American Embassy in Ankara. We also were called in by the CD who put strong pressure on us to NOT protest. We were not sent any emails, since new-fangled things like personal computers were not yet invented!! We went ahead anyway, and about 30 (if my memory is correct) PCVs held a "silent vigil" for an hour maybe. Many pictures were taken of us by MIB types, but nothing came of it. I was and still am very proud that we stood up for our rights as American citizens AND PCVs. And I applaud the young man in the DR who organized his protest and I hope he reads this. You can still be proud of your effort.

By hughc on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 - 9:55 am: Edit Post

I agree with the PC decision.

First of all, PC is not a political organization, and can not afford to be associated with political causes in the countries where it works. In Nicaragua, we still have problems getting our work done because many people, for some reason, associate the PC with anti-Sandinista political parties (Daniel Ortega disallowed the Peace Corps in Nicaragua during his term).

Secondly, your first ammendment rights apply IN THE UNITED STATES. It doesn't matter if you are a US citizen, it is PURELY ARROGANT to think you can carry these rights to other countries. Try protesting religious opression in Iran and you'll find yourself sentenced to death by stoning.

Let's remember, as PC volunteers, part of our job is to be culturally sensitive. What goes in the US doesn't necessarily go in other countries, particularly if it makes the PC's mission more difficult.

By James Burmester on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 - 9:32 pm: Edit Post

Well, I do remember something in one of the infinite manuals we had to read about not partaking in political activities, but I always assumed that was political activities happening by groups in the country. Nothing surprises me now. it wouldn't surprise me one bit if the fascist arm of the bushies had reached into PC decision making. I mean they have been messing with people opposed to the war not serving in PC. And Im sorry, this war WAS partially about oil. any leader in an oil rich country would agree. The war also about world chess. An age old game of conquest,land grab, resource grab and imperialism. The so called democratic usa is no different from the empires of the past. Sadaam is a dictator, no doubt, but so are many of the presidents of the countries we served in. The very good friends of our country. After all in the game of world chess, nobody's hands are clean

By Meredith Dalebout on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 4:59 pm: Edit Post

To Bill Wilson: I'm curious about "PCV websites that have been shut down". I haven't heard about this. Can you tell us more?
Meredith (Bunny) Dalebout, RPCV NIger 83-85

Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.