A member of the first 'Accion en Venezuela' group tells his story as the only African North American member

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Joseph H. Blatchford: May 1, 1969-July 1, 1971 : Blatchford: See what Joe Blatchford's Accion is doing today: A member of the first 'Accion en Venezuela' group tells his story as the only African North American member

By Willie Thompson (0-1pool78-112.nas49.oakland1.ca.us.da.qwest.net - on Tuesday, August 09, 2005 - 8:05 am: Edit Post

My story of the first Accion en Venezuela group is certainly more detailed than Joe's. It may be of some interest and value to those who continue to invest in human capital in South America especially among the African South Americans. I was a member of the first Accion en Venezuela group, about July 1961 to February 1962. We took a very,very abbreviated course in Spanish at Stanford University in California, stopped in Aruba enroute and arrived in Caracas near night-fall. It all seemd a bit stealthy and I remember hearing that Standard Oil was involved. President Kennedy visited and I was suddenly invited by a Venezuelan student to visit his family in the south during the Christmas holidays. The University was closed by the government following a military assault. After we were evacuated I traveled to Barlovento to find the African Venezuelans described in President Romulo Gallegos'novel "Pobre Negro". I returned in 1999 to participate in a panel discussion on the African family. I visited Bolivia in 1998 at the invitation of two Bolivian students (Criollos). They helped me to make contact with the African Bolivians in Santa Cruz, La Paz and Los Yungas de la Paz. I traveled to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in 2000 and now have extensive working relationships with many African Latinos. Unlike the micro-lending project my process is more accurately defined as micro-gifts as investment in human capital. It is hoped that the recipients will improve their life conditions after a small investment in their education or small business proposals. I'd like to convert to a micro-lending process with a pending request in Choco for money for kioskos, criadores de cerdos y pollos, artesanias and my own African Latin tour guide and story teller business. Please, respond.

By francisco saiz ( on Friday, October 16, 2009 - 5:43 pm: Edit Post

this is frank saiz, now 71 who was recruited from los angeles...served in valencia, "barrio el prado". married venezolana, ana mendoza ravelo. she served in barrio el sucre.

all these years...anyone home?...would love to meet again. i am 71 years old and the experience needless to say was life changing.

if you were the first and only african american, that should make me the first mexican american...what fond memories....and with a tentative plan of returning to valencia in the coming year...anyone interested?

francisco saiz

i wonder what happened to blatchford?...and what was his wife's name???

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