The Peace Corps first opened a program in Peru in 1962. During the next 13 years, over 2,600 Volunteers worked in health and nutrition, city planning, social work, agricultural extension, agricultural cooperatives, savings and loan associations, elementary and secondary education, community development, and earthquake reconstruction (after the severe earthquake and landslide of 1970). The Peace Corps had a main office in Lima and regional offices in Puno, Cusco, Chimbote, and Arequipa. Peace Corps’ departure from Peru in 1975 was due to political and economic instability.
In 2001, then-President Alejandro Toledo invited the Peace Corps to return to Peru. In addition to viewing Peace Corps as part of his development plan for the country, President Toledo had a personal relationship with the agency. When he was young, his family had hosted a Volunteer in their home in Chimbote. Volunteers taught him English and were instrumental in his decision to attend college and graduate school in the United States. President Toledo also worked at the Peace Corps training center in California, teaching Spanish while he was going to college.
Teams from Peace Corps headquarters made assessment visits to Peru in late 2001 and early 2002, and a country agreement was signed in Lima on March 23, 2002. The Peace Corps was represented by then-Director Gaddi Vasquez. Staff was deployed to Lima in May 2002. The first four Volunteers, third-year transferees from other Latin American countries, arrived in August 2002. They were followed by the first new group, arriving for training in November and swearing in as Volunteers in February 2003. A second group arrived in September 2003. Since then, two new groups of trainees have arrived each year. Over 770 Volunteers have served in the country since 2002.
For more information about Peace Corps' work in Peru, check out our most recent annual report: