2008.09.16: September 16, 2008: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: Safety: COS - Peru: Personal Web site: Peace Corps Volunteer Life with Evo writes: Refugee Status

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bolivia: Peace Corps Bolivia : Peace Corps Bolivia: New Stories: 2008.09.11: September 11, 2008: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: Diplomacy: Safety: Wall Street Journal: Bolivia Expels American Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg : 2008.09.15: September 15, 2008: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: Safety: Diplomacy: CNN: Peace Corps temporarily suspends operations in Bolivia because of "growing instability" : 2008.09.16: September 16, 2008: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: Safety: COS - Peru: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Lost and Found in Bolivia writes: safe, not necessarily happy : 2008.09.16: September 16, 2008: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: Safety: COS - Peru: Personal Web site: Peace Corps Volunteer Life with Evo writes: Refugee Status

By Admin1 (admin) (76.200.219.37) on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 - 1:32 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Life with Evo writes: Refugee Status

Peace Corps Volunteer Life with Evo writes: Refugee Status

Counterparts called Peace Corps and told them their volunteers were not safe. We watch as friends in our communities respond to the calls to take up arms and we donít know what we should do. Is it that serious? It must be this time. I usually tell people Peace Corps is consolidating, and they respond with a wave of the hand and a ďNo pasa nadaÖĒ Nothing will happen. This time they respond with tears. Tears for their people, tears for their country, as they process feelings of total bewilderment and despair. After all, where will they go? They have no consolidation point, no evacuation plans. After my arrival Friday night in Cochabamba, I sleep and wait. The longest hours of life. Waiting, without any idea with what might happen, without explanations. Saturday we move hotels. Sunday we get the message that we are indeed evacuating to a neighboring country. We are not told where. Then we move again. Itís for our safety, they say. Anti-American sentiment is high and no one can know where we are going or that we have even consolidated. Weíve only told our communities that we have to meet up for a minute and that we should be back. Yeah right. Monday we are scheduled to get out of the country. It is an interminable wait. Half of the volunteers have already been evacuated to Peru. My group is still in Bolivia. No one is allowed to say anything to friends or family for fear that the military cargo plane that had to jump hoops to get clearance for a bunch of Americans to get into Peru will run into problems and that we will have no way out. American airlines has cancelled flights in and out of Bolivia til the end of the month. Private chartered planes have waiting lists of 20+ organizations and hundreds of Americans are waiting for a chance to get out.

Peace Corps Volunteer Life with Evo writes: Refugee Status

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Refugee Status

Caption: A view from the Peace Corps office in Cochabomba.

[Excerpt]

Word came in on Wednesday that Ambassador Goldberg was out. Thursday I get a call in the evening about emergency consolidation and the next morning I am out of Samaipata. I say bye to the few people I can as they are picking up their guns to go protest. Twelve frantic hours in a 4x4 with nine people driving the back roads in order to avoid the tanks, military, and unnecessary confrontations with protestors in the streets, I arrive in Cochabambaba, tired, confused, and sad.

Our sites told us to get out before the Indians kill us. Counterparts called Peace Corps and told them their volunteers were not safe. We watch as friends in our communities respond to the calls to take up arms and we donít know what we should do. Is it that serious? It must be this time. I usually tell people Peace Corps is consolidating, and they respond with a wave of the hand and a ďNo pasa nadaÖĒ Nothing will happen. This time they respond with tears. Tears for their people, tears for their country, as they process feelings of total bewilderment and despair. After all, where will they go? They have no consolidation point, no evacuation plans.

After my arrival Friday night in Cochabamba, I sleep and wait. The longest hours of life. Waiting, without any idea with what might happen, without explanations. Saturday we move hotels. Sunday we get the message that we are indeed evacuating to a neighboring country. We are not told where. Then we move again. Itís for our safety, they say. Anti-American sentiment is high and no one can know where we are going or that we have even consolidated. Weíve only told our communities that we have to meet up for a minute and that we should be back. Yeah right.

Monday we are scheduled to get out of the country. It is an interminable wait. Half of the volunteers have already been evacuated to Peru. My group is still in Bolivia. No one is allowed to say anything to friends or family for fear that the military cargo plane that had to jump hoops to get clearance for a bunch of Americans to get into Peru will run into problems and that we will have no way out. American airlines has cancelled flights in and out of Bolivia til the end of the month. Private chartered planes have waiting lists of 20+ organizations and hundreds of Americans are waiting for a chance to get out.

During the eight hour wait in the airport for our military jet to get there, we receive more news. We are not going to just wait it out in Peru for things to get better. The decision has already been made that the Bolivia program is suspended. No returning there. Do you now want to close service early and go back to the U.S., or would you like to take another run at it in a different country?

Itís just too much to take in. Our minds are numb. There is a cloud hanging over us that makes for a subdued, depressed atmosphere. Not only did we leave our communities, now we will be leaving each other. Thatís just something we canít process yet, something that I will not allow myself to think about.

We jump on our military aircraft, strap ourselves in, and several bumpy, airsick hours later we arrive in Peru. The back hatch of the plane opens up and five or six men in suits walk towards us to greet us. Itís just like the movies. We walk out, a group of scraggly, tired, sleep-deprived volunteers and shake hands with the Embassy reps, the Peruvian Peace Corps director, and members of the U.S. Air Force who were responsible for our safe evacuation.

Minutes after my group lands on Peruvian soil, the press release goes out letting the world know that Peace Corps has suspended the program. Up til then, no one in Bolivia, minus the people involved in flying clearances, knew that we were on our way out.

I now feel like a refugee in wait. Waiting to see if Bolivia continues to blow up. Waiting to speak to people I care about. Waiting for that inevitable moment when things catch up to me and I fall apart. And waiting, and wondering, of what the future holds. This sucks. It all sucks.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: September, 2008; Peace Corps Bolivia; Directory of Bolivia RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Bolivia RPCVs; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Peace Corps Peru; Directory of Peru RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Peru RPCVs





When this story was posted in September 2008, this was on the front page of PCOL:




Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers RSS Feed
PCVs Evacuated from Georgia Date: August 19 2008 No: 1254 PCVs Evacuated from Georgia
The Peace Corps has announced that all Volunteers and trainees serving in the Republic of Georgia are safe and they have been temporarily relocated to neighboring Armenia. Read the analysis by one RPCV on how Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili believed that he could launch a lightning assault on South Ossetia and reclaim the republic without substantial grief from Moscow and that Saakashvili's statements once the war began demonstrated that he expected real Western help in confronting Russia.


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Story Source: Personal Web site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Bolivia; Safety; COS - Peru

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