Central America Trip Briefing: Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan Speaks With Reporters Aboard Air Force One

Office of the Press Secretary
(Managua, Nicaragua)

For Immediate Release March 8, 1999


Aboard Air Force One
En Route To Managua, Nicaragua

10:25 A.M. EST

MR. LOCKHART: The Director of the Peace Corps, MarkGearan, has a few words for you, and I'll come back later.

Q We're almost done, aren't we?

MR. GEARAN: I know. This is a rare pleasure, meaning-- well, I think the only thing I could add is the work of ourPeace Corps volunteers over the years -- 10,000 Americans haveserved as Peace Corps volunteers in Central America. We haveover 500 in these countries, many working on disaster relief andsome of the mitigation efforts.

But, specifically, what the President's going to bemeeting with some of our Crisis Corps volunteers, which is a newprogram within the Peace Corps that was established a year and ahalf ago -- President Clinton announced it -- where we send thosemembers who have been in the Peace Corps -- return Peace Corpsvolunteers -- to go back for a short-term assignment, six monthsor less. It's a functional reserve, if you will, within thePeace Corps.

So they go back to their country or region of service,because they know the language, the people, the culture, andthey're literally ready at day one to make a difference indisaster relief. So we have many Crisis Corps volunteers workinghere in Central America. Mrs. Gore recommended sending CrisisCorps volunteers after her trip here. Mrs. Clinton announcedpart of it on one of her visits, so we have many Crisis Corpsvolunteers that are working here in the region.

Q Do you know how many?

MR. GEARAN: Well, we have probably about 30 now.We're sending another group down in the next couple of months.Over the course of the year, we expect to have 100 Crisis Corpsvolunteers. We have about 500 regular Peace Corps volunteersworking -- regular meaning they serve for two years. CrisisCorps is six months or less.

Q By "here" you mean Nicaragua or the region?

MR. GEARAN: The region. Central America.

Q By 500, that refers to the entire region, not tothe four countries physically that we're visiting?

MR. GEARAN: No, that refers to the four countries. Worldwide we have 6,700 Peace Corps volunteers in 80 countries. And last Wednesday, the House approved the Peace Corps reauthorization by a vote of 326-90, to reauthorize the Peace Corps for four years, and allowing for its growth to get to 10,000 volunteers, which was an important initiative for the past year and a half. So almost by a 4-1 margin on a bipartisan basis, we expect the Peace Corps to expand.

After the hurricanes, we sent down many more PeaceCorps volunteers here, about a 25 percent increase of volunteersto the region after the hurricanes, to be responsive to it.

Q How many permanent volunteers do you --

Q Can you repeat that?

Q Permanent volunteers?

MR. GEARAN: We had a 25 percent increase in theregion, which is 78 additional volunteers to these fourcountries.

Q He's not announcing any additional deployment onthis trip, he's just thanking them.

MR. GEARAN: That's correct. They'll be here andmeeting with him as part of the event here, as well as at thevarious arrivals at the airports.

Q Are there any actually living in Posoltega?

MR. GEARAN: They're living in the region, and many ofour presently serving volunteers were in the region, so it'swell-known to the Peace Corps because our presence here has beensignificant for so many years. We can get you a list of who theyare and where they're from. I can give you this, I'll put thisin the report.


Office of the Press Secretary

Office of the Press Secretary

Office of the Press Secretary

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Central America Trip Briefing: Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan Speaks With Reporters Aboard Air Force One

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