Not your mother’s Peace Corps

Teaching abstinence to the AIDS afflicted.Did you hear in Ghana today President Bush is having lunch with US Peace Corps workers? Wherever did his handlers find even one Peace Corps volunteer who would feign tolerance to our callous mini-tyrant? In indifference-ravaged Africa no less! Is the Peace Corps not what it used to be, or not what we thought it was?

President Kennedy started the Peace Corps as a means for America to put a better face forward than the one the world saw in our exploitive capitalists. Though our politicians spoke of democracy and human rights, our soldiers usually demonstrated our industrial sense of entitlement to third world resources and labor. The Peace Corps was a deliberate counter to the suspicion that our usual diplomats, consultants and NGOs were riddled with CIA. In fact the Peace Corps was recruiting ground for the CIA.

Colorado College president Richard Celeste, himself a former Peace Corps director, likes to tell the story about volunteers working in Asia who knew the whereabouts of an insurgent, if only they’d known the CIA was after him. This is offered as proof of the firewall between US intelligence and the Corps. Of late, as we come to understand Black Ops and CIA ulterior motives, the anecdote comes to suggest the opposite. Revelations like Confessions of a Economic Hit Man indict the Peace Corps fully.

Since Celeste’s tenure, Colorado College boasts of being a leading contributor of students into the Peace Corps. With their advocacy of abstinence, are these civil NGOs distinguishable from missionaries?

Paul Theroux, 2007:

Poor Africa, the happy hunting ground of the mythomaniac, the rock star buffing up his or her image, the missionary with a faith to sell, the child buyer, the retailer of dirty drugs or toxic cigarettes, the editor in search of a scoop, the empire builder, the aid worker, the tycoon wishing to rid himself of his millions, the school builder with a bucket of patronage, the experimenting economist, the diamond merchant, the oil executive, the explorer, the slave trader, the eco-tourist, the adventure traveler, the bird watcher, the travel writer, the escapee, the colonial and his crapulosities, the banker, the busybody, the Mandela-sniffer, the political fantasist, the buccaneer and your cousin the Peace Corps Volunteer.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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