The Washington Post reported yesterday that the US Government is suspending training for new Peace Crops volunteers in Guatemala and El Salvador while they “reassess security concerns.” The volunteers currently in place will remain and Peace Corps officials report that they are all safe and accounted for.
A new group of volunteers was to arrive in January 2012, but their training has been cancelled and they are being reassigned to other countries.
The BBC is reporting that the Peace Corps is completely putting out of Honduras, bringing all 158 current volunteers home in January.
According to the Peace Corps website, there are currently 122 Peace Corps volunteers in El Salvador and over 2,186 have served in El Salvador since 1962. Volunteers work in areas of community organization and economic development, rural health and sanitation, sustainable agriculture, agro-forest and environmental education, and youth development.
The reason for the withdrawal is security. The New York Times quoted Kristina Edmunson, a Peace Corps spokeswoman in Washington, who said the move stemmed from “comprehensive safety and security concerns” rather than any specific threat or incident. The Times article, stated, however, that Peace Corps Journals, an online portal for blogs by Peace Corps volunteers, has an entry referring to a volunteer who was shot in the leg during an armed robbery on a bus.
Central America has become the most violent region in the world, and Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have recently posted the highest murder rates in the world. Part of the reason for the uptick in violence is the increased presence of international organized criminal networks that are trafficking drugs from South American producers to North American markets.