March 23, 2002 - MSNBC: President Bush announces return of Peace Corps to Peru

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 03 March 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: March 23, 2002 - MSNBC: President Bush announces return of Peace Corps to Peru

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, March 23, 2002 - 8:39 pm: Edit Post

President Bush announces return of Peace Corps to Peru


President Bush announced today in a joint Press Conference in Lima, Peru with Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo that the US Peace Corps will return to Peru.

In the Press Conference carried live over MSNBC, President Bush said that we would reintroduce the Peace Corps to Peru after an absence of 30 years.

He said that the first volunteers will arrive in August as a symbol of the stornger ties between the peoples and nations.

The Peace Corps first opened a program in Peru in 1962 but was expelled in 1975 by Peru’s then-military government.

More than 2,000 American volunteers worked in Peru during those 13 years in development projects linked with education, agriculture, small businesses and social infrastructure.

President Toledo of Peru has a long standing relationship with the Peace Corps. He was helped by Peace Corps volunteers as a young boy in Chimbote and volunteers assisted him in coming to the United States to study in the 1960's.

Read a story on the two returned volunteers, Nancy and Joel Meister living in Tuscon, who helped President Toledo at:

Peruvian stands on brink of presidency - and has 2 Tucsonans to thank for it

Read a profile of President Toledo's early life and his association with the Peace Corps at:

Profile of Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo

Read a story of President Toledo's work one summer as a language trainer for the Peace Corps at:

Peruvian President taught in Peace Corps Training Program

Read and comment on the full story from MSNBC on the Bush visit to Peru at:

Bush arrives in crisis-stricken Peru*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Bush arrives in crisis-stricken Peru

Terrorism, trade are key issues on whirlwind agenda

President Bush, left, and Peru's President Alejandro Toledo wave Saturday after Bush's arrival in Lima.


March 23 — Encountering protest and criticism from another head of state, President Bush arrived in Peru on Saturday offering to help the South American nation with both trade and terrorism, just three days after a deadly terrorist attack outside the U.S. Embassy in Lima. Praising the nations’ relationship as “based on common values and common interests,” Bush pledged to step up his drive for Congressional passage of key trade legislation; announced a trade mission to the country later this year; and revived the Peace Corps, an agency from another American era.

SECURITY WAS TIGHT in the capital as Bush, fresh from a U.N. economic summit in Mexico, became the first U.S. president ever to visit the Andean nation, a country in political and economic crisis.

Bush announced plans to revive the Peace Corps, a venerated symbol of American largesse, with his signing of an agreement to reintroduce the agency to Peru after an absence of 27 years. “The first volunteers will arrive in August, a symbol of the stronger ties between our people and the stronger relationship between our nations,” Bush told a news conference with Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo. The agency first opened a program in Peru in 1962 but was expelled in 1975 by Peru’s then-military government.

More than 2,000 American volunteers worked in Peru during those 13 years in development projects linked with education, agriculture, small businesses and social infrastructure.

Toledo, for his part, said he and Bush share “the energy and the stubbornness” to combat terrorism without wavering. He called it “a war with no ambiguities whatsoever against terrorism and drug trafficking.”


Just before Bush’s arrival, Peruvian police dispersed crowds with tear gas and arrested at least 18 people throwing stones in protest of his visit.

Sharpshooters stalked rooftops, police in riot gear on horses and with light armored vehicles were on the streets, helicopters overhead and frigates were anchored off the coast.

Peru’s government had urged demonstrators to stay home, but several dozen still turned out with banners proclaiming “Bush Out of Peru” and “Uncle Sam — Son of a Bitch.”

“They were throwing stones and shouting against the government, against Bush. It’s all under control now,” said Juan Sangamas, a member of Peru’s riot police.

Lobbing rhetorical stones, Jorge Quiroga, the president of Bolivia, rejected U.S. criticism that it was not doing enough to fight illicit drugs and said what it needed instead was access to U.S. markets for legal crops.

“We’ve reduced coca crops [the plant from which cocaine is extracted] by more than 90 percent ... and we’ll continue controls, but the task won’t be completed without access to markets and opportunities for legal crops and products,” Quiroga told reporters Saturday in Lima. Bolivia is said to be the world’s No. 3 cocaine producer.


Quiroga was to meet Bush and other Andean leaders later to discuss renewing a deal to give a range of goods from Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador free access to the United States to help the fight against drugs fight in a region that produces almost all the world’s cocaine.

Quiroga called the U.S. criticism “unacceptable and wrong” and called on the United States, the world’s top drug consumer, to cut demand. “The important thing is not to get into a debate about the past, but about markets and opportunities for the future,” Quiroga said. “This is the central theme of this meeting.”

Bush said he had talked with Toledo about how the United States can help in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorists. “Mr. Toledo and I share a common perspective on terrorism: We must stop it.”

Bush said the United States had tripled assistance to Peru for fighting drugs but also has an obligation to reduce U.S. demand for illegal drugs. “We’ve got to do a better job at home of convincing Americans to stop using drugs,” he said. “That will, in turn, help the region.”

DRUG FLIGHTS: NO DECISION ‘We are reviewing all avenues toward an effective policy of interdiction.’ — BUSH on whether to resume drug surveillance flights over Peru

The president ended his meeting with Toledo having made no decision on whether to resume drug surveillance flights over Peru. They were suspended in April 2001 after a Peruvian military jet shot down a plane carrying American missionaries, killing 35-year-old Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter, Charity. A CIA-operated surveillance plane had mistakenly identified the aircraft as a possible drug-smuggling flight.

“We are reviewing all avenues toward an effective policy of interdiction,” Bush said.

At a pre-arrival news conference Friday night, Bush left open the possibility of new military aid for Peru following Wednesday’s car bombing. A car bomb believed to weigh about 110 pounds exploded, killing nine Peruvians in what was called the country’s worst terrorist attack in five years.

“We’re going to analyze all options available to help Peru,” Bush said.

But, he added, the United States could do even better for Peru by first pushing stalled trade legislation for Andean nations through the U.S. Senate.


With his weekly radio address, Bush also made his trade argument to Americans back home.

“Prosperity in our hemisphere will produce profound benefits for all our countries,” Bush said in the broadcast.

“The United States is strongly committed to helping build an entire hemisphere that lives in liberty and trades in freedom,” he said.

At the U.N. conference in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey on Friday, Bush broadly outlined his new aid doctrine, whereby the United States would jump-start a multibillion-dollar aid program for countries that combat corruption and open their markets as part of Washington’s “answer to terror.”

The United States is committed to helping the world’s poorest people, Bush said, as part of a “new compact for development defined by greater accountability.” He called liberty, education and the rule of law “the conditions of development.”


Addressing his congress late Friday, Toledo announced measures to rebuild Peru’s weakened intelligence services and doubled the Interior Ministry’s anti-terrorism budget. He also offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the masterminds of Wednesday’s attack.

March 23 — President Bush’s trip to Peru is aimed in part at shoring up the government of President Alejandro Toledo, whose country faces widespread poverty. NBC’s David Gregory reports from Lima.

The Shining Path, a Maoist rebel movement thought to have been dwindling, is believed to be responsible.

“We will not allow a return to violence,” Toledo said, noting leftist groups such as Shining Path — also known by its Spanish name, Sendero Luminoso — nearly brought the state to its knees in the 1980s and early ’90s.

The case of Lori Berenson, an American from New York imprisoned in Peru for terrorism, is on the list of Bush’s talking points for his meeting with Toledo, but there is no guarantee the topic will come up, senior administration officials said.

The 32-year-old American is serving a 20-year sentence in a Peruvian jail for helping rebels from the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement plan a 1995 attempt to seize Peru’s Congress. Berenson has maintained her innocence, saying Peruvian officials misconstrued her concerns about social justice as a terrorist agenda.


A key objective of Bush’s four-day trip to Mexico, Peru and El Salvador has been to refocus U.S. attention on Latin America, which was diverted by the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ahead of the November elections for control of Congress, Bush has been searching for ways to expand the Republican Party’s base with the Hispanic community, the fastest-growing voting bloc in the United States.

In their weekly radio address, Democrats ripped into Bush and his fellow Republicans on a number of fronts important to Hispanics — from immigration and Social Security to education to business opportunities.

“The president’s trip this weekend to Latin America is part of an orchestrated strategy to curry favor with Latino voters in the United States,” Antonio Villaraigosa, speaker emeritus of the California state assembly, said in delivering Saturday’s address. “Our community knows the difference between rhetoric and results.”


Bush primarily hoped to use the visit to give Toledo a political boost in the face of daily protests and Toledo’s tumbling approval ratings, Bush administration officials said. Bush was also eager to spur the moves toward democratic reform that Toledo has taken in his eight months as president.

After the car bombing, Toledo appealed to major opposition groups to drop plans for protests surrounding Bush’s visit.

Some who peacefully marched downtown Friday insisted Bush should not yet praise Peru for its rejuvenated democracy, because half of the 26 million Peruvians still live in poverty.

“We are not going to have democracy until we have work!,” shouted Alvaro Cole, a laid-off worker who took part in the protest.

But political columnist Mirko Lauer disagreed, saying Peru was now bidding to rebuild democratic institutions eroded by former President Alberto Fujimori’s iron grip on power.

Lauer said Peru was being singled out as a good neighbor in an increasingly troubled hemisphere.

“The United States needs allies in the war on terrorism. The United States needs friends in its own backyard,” Lauer said.


Amid the hoopla of Bush’s arrival, heralded by a 21-gun salute at the Lima airport, Foreign Minister Diego Garcia-Sayan tried to deflate any “out-of-proportion” expectations Peruvians may hold.

“The arrival of President Bush is not the arrival of the Three Wise Men or Santa Claus,” Garcia-Sayan said.

The United States announced recently that it will triple its anti-drug funding to Peru. The aid will back Peru’s efforts to stem a possible resurgence in coca production and the recent appearance of heroin poppy crops in remote highland areas.

Bush also has pledged to push through Congress a renewal and expansion of preferential tariff treatment to imports from Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador. The plan is intended to boost those Andean economies and provide an alternative to the drug trade for citizens of those four countries, which together produce most of the world’s cocaine.


The Andean Trade Preferences Act stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate last year, and the special tariff treatment expired Dec. 4. Bush reiterated his support for the act on Saturday, calling on Congress “to renew and extend the Andean Trade Preferences Act. The House of Representatives has moved this legislation. It’s stuck in the Senate, and I urge the Senate to act.” Bush also announced that Secretary of Commerce Don Evans will lead a trade msision to Peru later this year.

Responding Saturday to a question on evidence of Colombia’s FARC rebels in Peru — and the possible widening of what has been a one-nation problem into a situation that may spread across other Latin American borders — Bush said he and Toledo “discussed the neighborhood at length today. President Toledo told me that he’s done a good job of making sure that relations with neighbors to the north and south are good. We will help him in this effort.”

Bush leaves Lima early on Sunday and flies to El Salvador.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; US Peace Corps - Country Programs; Special Reports - Peace Corps expands; COS - Peru



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