January 25, 2004 - Albuquerque Journal: Assaults on Peace Corps Workers Often Go Unpunished

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Haiti: Peace Corps Haiti : The Peace Corps in Haiti: January 25, 2004 - Albuquerque Journal: Assaults on Peace Corps Workers Often Go Unpunished

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-35-236.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, January 25, 2004 - 3:23 pm: Edit Post

Assaults on Peace Corps Workers Often Go Unpunished

Assaults on Peace Corps Workers Often Go Unpunished

Assaults on Peace Corps Workers Often Go Unpunished

By Steve Shoup

For the Journal

Some missionaries came to my house last week. They always seem to travel in pairs, because visiting strangers in America can be dangerous and unpredictable.

But the buddy system seems lost on the Peace Corps, which puts inexperienced people alone into much tougher and more confusing spots.

My wife, Nancy, and I joined the Peace Corps in September 2001. Soon afterward, Congress' General Accounting Office reported the corps put volunteers at risk and that attacks worldwide had doubled in a decade.

We were sent to Haiti where the Peace Corps had been operating on and off for years. Nancy is a botanist and farmer. I had been a police reporter for the Albuquerque Journal and am an intermediate emergency medical technician.

The corps wanted us to do reforestation and public health for two years. They sent trainees to Akaye, up the coast from the capital at Port-au-Prince, for Kreyol language study and technical school.

One day there, a deranged elderly woman with a huge knife chased Nancy and me through an open-air market. Later, we were walking on a main road with three other trainees when two men tried to take Nancy's fanny pack.

Another time, a volunteer told us that she and another were robbed at gunpoint on a bus. Classmates told of seeing a suspected thief hacked and burned to death in an outlying village.

We heard handgun fire in our town and automatic-weapon fire near the corps offices in the capital.

Both the training center and the headquarters were surrounded by steel gates and guarded by men with shotguns. Trainees stayed with local families behind locked wooden doors and had the general goodwill of their neighbors.

Once, the Haitian medical director advised us never to go to downtown Port-au-Prince. That same day, other corps officials told us to take a bus downtown and then somehow get to other buses to take different, broken routes— alone— to widely separated villages, possibly at night.

Before we could make the trip, Nancy came down with giardia and I decided to stay behind with her.

Soon, corps officials pressured us to resign and to say it was for health rather than safety reasons. Nearly half of the trainees resigned before the end of 2001.

In July 2002, the GAO reported on safety in the corps. "We found mixed performance in key areas, which may expose some volunteers to risk ... We identified a number of instances of uneven performance in developing safe and secure housing and work sites and responding to volunteers' safety concerns," the report said.

Copyright 2004 Albuquerque Journal

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Albuquerque Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Haiti; Safty and Security of Volunteers



By daniel (0-1pool136-37.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Saturday, January 31, 2004 - 10:27 pm: Edit Post

In my case, the Peace Corps has helped the unscruplous individuals who threatened my physical safety. They continue to do so. The don't care and it shows in their record with victims of violence who served in Peace Corps.

By Group Niner (pbryson.blitz.willamette.edu - on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 4:17 pm: Edit Post

You never even made it through training, so how can you speak for the reality of being a volunteer anywhere let alone the complex society that is Haiti? While I was a volunteer in Haiti from 2000-2002 the Peace Corps staff was very supportive of volunteers in both easy and hard times. The "health reasons" Peace Corps suggested to you was a result of your inflexible attitude towards a foreign culture rather than the obvious security problems in a underdeveloped country. You were on notice prior to coming to Haiti that the country has had two centuries of conflict, poverty, and strife. One of the realities of being a volunteer is dealing with adversity including sickness and lack of security. You do a disservice to the Peace Corps in general and Peace Corps volunteers in Haiti in particular by your myopic presentation of the Peace Corps experience.

By Steve S (dial215-151.albuquerque.osogrande.net - on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 11:01 pm: Edit Post

Let's see, the Peace Corps is out of Haiti, the Marine Corps is in. Extensive investigations by the Dayton Daily News and the U.S. General Accounting office affirm that the corps disregards safety. Saying that I don't know what Haiti was like because I left during training is like saying ignore the smoke detector, wait until the house is fully ablaze to decide if it's dangerous. BTW, I had so much more experience that the reckless kids down there. I did medical rescue work at Hurricane Hugo, USVI; Hurricane Andrew, Miami; Hurricane Iniki, Kauai, Hawaii; Northridge Earthquake, Los Angeles; Cerro Grande Fire, Los Alamos; so I know when things aren't safe. Dead, hurt or sick rescuers can't help anyone. Those in denial about the danger can't either.

By pbryson (63-229-129-243.ptld.qwest.net - on Saturday, March 06, 2004 - 9:35 pm: Edit Post

Haiti's security problems have nothing to do with Peace Corps. Peace Corps correctly removed the volunteers in Haiti a few weeks back. If you check the date of my posting you will see that my posting occurred after evacuation of volunteers. Alarmist approaches to security situations create more problems than solutions. Almost two years have passed since you were rejected during training and PCVs in Haiti have done great work, regardless of the security problems. Volunteers were never stationed in Port-au-Prince where a majority of the political violence occured. If you want a suburban experience, don't step outside the comfort zone. Your experiences in the developed world did not translate into the developing world. You defame the good work of dedicated PCVs worldwide by calling them "reckless kids." FYI PCVs are not "rescuers." PCVs typically end up learning more from their host countries than they teach themselves. You should recall the staging exercise where Washington staff told you and your fellow stagees "Peace Corps is not for everyone." Don't reject the whole program because it didn't fit with your skill set or world view. Persons who are paralyzed with fear should stay indoors.

By pbryson (63-229-129-243.ptld.qwest.net - on Saturday, March 06, 2004 - 9:42 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Consolidates Volunteers in Haiti

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 19, 2004 –4:00 p.m. (EST) The Peace Corps announced this afternoon that efforts to consolidate its volunteers who have been serving in Haiti are now complete.

Because of the current civil unrest in some areas of Haiti, the Peace Corps has consolidated the volunteers as a precautionary measure. Consolidation involves moving volunteers to a secure location until the safety and security situation can be more clearly assessed.

“Volunteer safety and security is the number one priority of the Peace Corps. That is why this precautionary action was taken – to ensure our volunteers are secure until any concerns can be assessed and resolved,” said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez.

The Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. is in constant communication with the staff in Haiti. Peace Corps headquarters and post in Haiti will continue to monitor the situation in order to provide an accurate assessment of the ongoing security status.

Families are encouraged to contact Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services with any questions or concerns they may have. The Office of Special Services maintains a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week duty system. The telephone number during standard office hours is 1-800-424-8580, Extension 1470; the after hours number is 202-638-2574. The Office of Special Services may also be contacted via e-mail at ossdutyofficer@peacecorps.gov

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.