Serving PCVs are vulnerable in times of political transition

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Benin: Peace Corps Benin : Peace Corps Benin: Newest Stories: 2009.03.12: March 12, 2009: Headlines: COS - Benin: Obituaries: Crime: Murder: Safety: ABC News: Peace Corps Volunteer Murdered in Benin : 2009.03.15: March 15, 2009: Headlines: COS - Benin: Obituaries: Safety: Crime: Murder: Fallen: Atalnta Journal Constitution: Major Suspect in Murder of Peace Corps Volunteer Kate Puzey: Serving PCVs are vulnerable in times of political transition

By Joanne Marie Roll Colombia XI ( on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 11:10 am: Edit Post

The bureaucratic structure, which supports Peace Corps Volunteers, is unique. Five years is the limit for any civil service appointment. Political appointees fill many positions. At the time of transition from one Presidential administration to another, particularly when the political affiliation is changing, the already high rate of personnel turnover is exacerbated. This can leave critical positions empty, with a potential negative impact on safety and security of serving volunteers. At least two tragedies occurred during such transition. Walter Poirier III, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia, went missing in December of 2000. His absence was not even immediately discovered. His fate remains unknown. Weeks after President Carter was inaugurated in 1977, Richard Starr, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia was kidnapped by FARC and ultimately held for three years.
President Obama correctly acknowledged the vulnerability of military troops during a time of presidential transition.
He needs now to be reminded of the incredible vulnerability of serving Peace Corps Volunteers. I urge my fellow RPCVs to email the White House, and Senators Dodd, Udall, and Kennedy, as well as Representative Farr, and urge that immediate steps be taken to ensure the safety of serving PCVs during this time of transition. I mourn the loss of Kate Puzey.

By Joanne Marie Roll Colombia XI ( on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 11:35 am: Edit Post

There is a third tragedy. The time line for the murder of serving PCV Debbie Gardner reinforces this problem Debbie Gardner was killed October 14, 1976, days away from the 1976 election. The case of her murderer, fellow PCV Dennis Priven, was processed during the transition period from Republican Ford to Democratic Carter. Priven arrived in Washington DC, days before the inauguration of President Carter. Peace Corps had promised HC nationals that Priven would be hospitalized for criminal insanity when he reached the US. Instead, after being brought back to DC by PC officials, Priven walked away a free man.

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