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Post How Independent was the US Peace Corps in the 1960s?
Created by John Eipper on 06/19/18 5:32 AM

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How Independent was the US Peace Corps in the 1960s? (Richard Hancock, USA, 06/19/18 5:32 am)

On June 14th, John E asked about CIA meddling in the early days of the US Peace Corps.

During the two years that I was Peace Corps Director in El Salvador, I was totally independent and ran the program as I saw fit.  Ambassador Williams was supportive but never domineering.

I am sure that this was true of all directors during the term of Sargent Shriver as the national Peace Corps Director. I have no idea what the situation is now.

JE comments:  Many thanks, Richard.  It is "common knowledge" here in Colombia that American Peace Corps volunteers in this country were among the first links (late 1960s and early '70s) in the drug trafficking chain between Colombia and the US.  See, for example, the popular 2004 film El Rey

There may have been a couple of bad apples, but I assume the assumption is an exaggeration.  Have you heard anything about this, Richard?

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  • Peace Corps Volunteers in Colombia: Links to Drug Trafficking? (Richard Hancock, USA 06/20/18 7:58 AM)

    In response to John E's question of June 19th, I heard nothing of Peace Corps Volunteers in Colombia being involved in drug trafficking.

    JE comments:  I know of no hard evidence, but the rumor is widely accepted in Colombia.  See this Financial Times review of Juan Gabriel Vásquez's The Sound of Things Falling:


    With this note, I will board our flight from Pereira, capital of Colombia's "Eje Cafetero" (Coffee Region).  Time permitting, the next WAIS posts will come from Ft Lauderdale.

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    • "Common Knowledge" in Colombia, Mexico; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 06/22/18 10:31 AM)

      Gary Moore writes:

      Reprising JE's observation on what social science used to call "collective behavior,"
      in this case on Richard Hancock's admirable experience in the Peace Corps (June 20th), the talk turned to "common knowledge" in Colombia about the CIA. Did the
      CIA start the drug smuggling epidemic? Was the CIA hiding in the Peace Corps?

      Yeah, it's also common knowledge in Colombia that babies are kidnapped for their kidneys.
      It was common knowledge in Mexico in the 1970s, including among some intellectuals,
      that Mexico was suffering a drought because the US had stolen its rain.

      What's the standard of credibility when consensus itself is credulous?

      JE comments:  Perhaps the most pervasive urban legend in present-day Colombia:  former president (and current kingmaker) Álvaro Uribe is in cahoots with the Medellín drug traffickers--indeed, he is the biggest, baddest, and most untouchable narco of all.  Common knowledge.

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