Peace Corps evacuates volunteers from Peru amid worsening political crisis
The Peace Corps has evacuated its volunteers from Peru amid a political crisis that has included deadly crackdowns by the government on its citizens.
Troy Blackwell, a spokesperson for the Peace Corps, confirmed the relocation but not the destination.
“Peace Corps/Peru has temporarily evacuated all volunteers to another Peace Corps post,” Blackwell said in an email. “The safety and well-being of Peace Corps volunteers is our top priority. We are closely monitoring the security situation with local partners on the ground and the U.S. Embassy in Lima.”
A person familiar with the move, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive withdrawal, said the volunteers are headed to the Peace Corps’ post in Ecuador.
The decision comes after weeks of popular unrest against a government that has taken over following a failed December coup attempt by a Peruvian president facing impeachment. The South American country has had a politically tumultuous few years, cycling through several presidents amid various corruption and other scandals.
Peace Corps volunteers often work in areas far from national capitals and with less immediate protections than U.S. diplomats — meaning they are sometimes the first group of U.S. workers to be evacuated when unrest hits.
Though the U.S. has issued some travel alerts for Peru, there’s no current indication that the U.S. Embassy in Peru, U.S. Agency for International Development officials or other government agents are leaving the country.
The Peace Corps has a long, though somewhat intermittent history in Peru. Hundreds of volunteers cycled through the country between 1962 and 1975, when the program closed due to political and economic instability. It returned to the country in 2002.
Analysts are fearful that the situation in Peru — and the conditions that allowed Peace Corps volunteers to work there — aren’t set to improve.
“The government has doubled down on the crackdowns,” said Jo-Marie Burt, a professor of Latin America studies at George Mason University. “Things are going to get worse before they get better.”