Peace Corps Brazil




site map


(Site launched July 2000. It has no official connection with US Peace Corps)




Add Me










Updated:  08-Oct-14


Some History of the Peace Corps in Brazil


Submitted by:  John Reeder   PE 69-72


According to the Peace Corps data, approximately 4,200 volunteers served in Brazil during 1962-80. During the 1960s, there were as many as 500 or more volunteers each year in Brazil, many of these in large rural or urban community development (CD) programs. Many of the early volunteers were young, BA generalists who were placed in large programs without adequate training or job support, and did not complete a full two year term. The slogan for those who did complete their work in Brazil was "flexibilidade e jeito" in being creative and self reliant in doing their community development work.


By the early 1970s, the number of volunteers in Brazil slipped to 300 or so annually, and more volunteers were placed in smaller programs or more specific jobs rather than the earlier large groups of B.A. generalists in poorly supported rural or urban CD programs. There was some attempt to bring in more technically specialized volunteers. However, by the mid 70s, there were fewer than 200 volunteers in Brazil, and many of these were in Northeast and North.


Beginning around 1977-78, the Brazilian military government’s displeasure with the U.S. anti-nuclear proliferation treaty and criticism of Brazil’s human rights policies (under President Jimmy Carter’s human rights policy) contributed to Brazil’s ending of Peace Corps’ presence.


Phil Lopes (the last PC Country Director from 1978-80) wrote in the March 1991 Friends of Brazil newsletter how Brazil’s foreign ministry simply stopped issuing visas to trainees until no volunteers were left. Peace Corps was one of the few bilateral Brazilian-U.S. programs remaining in those years, and Brasilia could show its displeasure with the U.S. Government, particularly as the Peace Corps was then trying to model itself as a "junior AID," closely allied to the State Department policy. The bilateral agreement for PC then required Brasilia/Itamaraty to approve and micromanage every PC project and every trainee, something not done in the 1960s and early 1970s. While local or regional Brazilian organizations generally had high regard for volunteers, this support did not extend to Itamaraty which ended PC in Brazil.


It might also be pointed out that about this time German and other European Peace Corps type volunteers had become embroiled in a controversy over the Brazilian Government’s treatment of Native American (Indian) land and human rights in the Amazonas region. There appeared to be an effort of the Brazilian Government to remove all foreign volunteers from areas where this would bring unfavorable foreign news reports.



Go to Peace Corps Brazil History by State