History of Peace Corps in Brazil

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Brazil: Peace Corps Brazil: The Peace Corps in Brazil: History of Peace Corps in Brazil

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, June 23, 2001 - 2:38 pm: Edit Post

History of Peace Corps in Brazil



History of Peace Corps in Brazil

According to the Peace Corps data, approximately 4,200 volunteers served in Brazil during 1962-80. During the 1960s, there were as many as 500 or more volunteers each year in Brazil, many of these in large rural or urban community development (CD) programs. Many of the early volunteers were young, BA generalists who were placed in large programs without adequate training or job support, and did not complete a full two year term. The slogan for those who did complete their work in Brazil was "flexibilidade e jeito" in being creative and self reliant in doing their community development work.

By the early 1970s, the number of volunteers in Brazil slipped to 300 or so annually, and more volunteers were placed in smaller programs or more specific jobs rather than the earlier large groups of B.A. generalists in poorly supported rural or urban CD programs. There was some attempt to bring in more technically specialized volunteers. However, by the mid 70s, there were fewer than 200 volunteers in Brazil, and many of these were in Northeast and North.

Beginning around 1977-78, the Brazilian military governmentís displeasure with the U.S. anti-nuclear proliferation treaty and criticism of Brazilís human rights policies (under President Jimmy Carterís human rights policy) contributed to Brazilís ending of Peace Corpsí presence.

Phil Lopes (the last PC Country Director from 1978-80) wrote in the March 1991 Friends of Brazil newsletter how Brazilís foreign ministry simply stopped issuing visas to trainees until no volunteers were left. Peace Corps was one of the few bilateral Brazilian-U.S. programs remaining in those years, and Brasilia could show its displeasure with the U.S. Government, particularly as the Peace Corps was then trying to model itself as a "junior AID," closely allied to the State Department policy. The bilateral agreement for PC then required Brasilia/Itamaraty to approve and micromanage every PC project and every trainee, something not done in the 1960s and early 1970s. While local or regional Brazilian organizations generally had high regard for volunteers, this support did not extend to Itamaraty which ended PC in Brazil.

It might also be pointed out that about this time German and other European Peace Corps type volunteers had become embroiled in a controversy over the Brazilian Governmentís treatment of Native American (Indian) land and human rights in the Amazonas region. There appeared to be an effort of the Brazilian Government to remove all foreign volunteers from areas where this would bring unfavorable foreign news reports.

By Tom OLeary on Monday, January 20, 2003 - 8:35 pm: Edit Post

Amigos, mil gracias por haber prestado ojo a este
mensaje! For a number of years I've been trying to
re-find a dear old friend of mine, one Hubert Smith (wife, Judy); he was a field rep in Brazil
late 60s/very early 70s. Hugh and I were farflung
rural a.c. volunteers/Colombia/65-67. Last laid eyes on each other late 70's; latest corresp. late
80s; last effort mine, late 90s, letter returned,
addressee unknown. Sure would like to swap words
wirh ol' Hubert again; many thanks for any help!

By Kristen Krintz on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 4:45 pm: Edit Post

Hello!

Both of my parents, Jerome "Jerry" Krintz and Mary Ann (Dabey) Krintz were in Brazil (Sao Paulo area) with the Peace Corps in the mid 60s. I'm interested in finding any of their fellow volunteers that might know some stories about them from that time. I know this is a long shot, but worth a try.

Thanks,
Kristen Krintz

By Rebecca B on Tuesday, August 12, 2003 - 2:37 pm: Edit Post

I will be a college graduate this May and im interested in doing Peace Corps type work in Brazil for a year. Any suggestions of other organizations I can go to in order to facilitate this?

THanks!
Rebecca

By Anonymous on Wednesday, August 13, 2003 - 11:39 am: Edit Post

There are alot of organizations with less than one year service. If you have to pay for anything avoid the program. Look under USAID Bazil and there are some good programs such as ACDI/VOCA. Peace Corps has a program called Special Operations, which is less than a year. Where you work or volunteer also depends on your background and where you would like to specialize.

Good Luck

By Anthony Villias (dialup-67.31.12.201.dial1.newyork1.level3.net - 67.31.12.201) on Monday, December 29, 2003 - 1:01 pm: Edit Post

I am currently involved with Amircorps, kind of a peace corps for the U.S.
I have been very interested in volunteering in Brazil for quite some time, I just don't know how to get started. Any help, ideas or information would be sooo helpful. Thank you-Anthony Villias

By Domicio Arruda Camara Sobrinho (corsair.digi.com.br - 200.241.100.66) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 3:42 pm: Edit Post

Looking for returnees who were in Brazil, northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte in the 70,s.
Anyone who stayed in Nova Cruz?

By Peggy Gray (207.224.163.200) on Sunday, April 13, 2008 - 7:42 pm: Edit Post

I was in Nova Cruz from November 1972 to February 1974. My name is Peggy Gray. Christina, whose last name I don't remember, was the volunteer before me.

By Carioca (141.135.96.167) on Tuesday, August 18, 2015 - 9:18 am: Edit Post

Dear writers (and readers),

It's great that this information has been made available online.

The work of the Peace Corps is an invaluable contribution to improving social development and human rights in countries where these two issues are both still great obstacles to building a better society. It's great to see that the experience allows for many Americans to go and live outside their country for some time and to experience a different world, where they gather life-changing experiences and make great friends, some of whom I have in fact met over the course of my life (not just in Brazil but in other developing countries) and keep in touch till this day, as many of you who posted the other comments have done as well.

On the other hand, I must say that the way the information on the departure of Peace Corps volunteers is somewhat biased in this article.

First let's ask the question: why did Itamaraty (Brazil's foreign ministry) end PC service in Brazil in the first place?

It is certainly (and partly) true that the Brazilian government did not like the kind of information that was being exposed by foreign volunteers (US and non-US) around treatment of native Americans and land in that period. And the work done by the volunteers on the ground were certainly a great contribution to raising awareness of really critical issues in a region where most people in Brazil and around the world have little access to and information about.

But the truth, and one of the main motivations of the Brazilian government ending the PC service (and particularly why the foreign ministry intervened, out of all the other ministries that could have intervened in this case) is that PC volunteers, as your article even hints ('allied to State Department policy'), were also providing valuable information to US secret services that were then used - including to shape State Department policy in Brazil (by the way, off limits to Brazilian policy-makers and the Brazilian public) - to try and advance US strategic interests over areas (such as surveilling the Amazon space) with no respect for Brazilian sovereignty and the rights of Brazilians to define what to do in their territory. Trust me, I have primary sources of this information from the very same people - government AND non-government people - who struggled to keep US businessmen backed by the US government away from lobbying themselves into making money out of installing American radars and support technology in the Amazon to provide information to Washington (i.e.: the State Department and the CIA).

And while there is no question that the Brazilian government has repeatedly committed human rights violations in different stages of Brazil's recent history (and in particular during the periods mentioned, when things were not as transparent as today), the way Peace Corps were used behind the scenes by the US government was even more repulsive, hence the reason why Brazilian foreign services stepped in to say 'enough', 'go home'.

For anyone who is interested in reading more about this kind of practice by the US State Department abroad in the late 20th century, please read 'Confessions of an Economic Hitman' by John Perkins. Here you'll find (part of) the real truth behind US government policy in Latin America in the 20th century - for us Latin Americans, and may I make myself clear - 20th-century-style meddling into our internal affairs to gain advantage over us in our own territory - no thank you, never again...


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