It’s Official: Peace Corps Quits Uzbekistan

by Nathan Hamm on 6/6/2005 · 7 comments

Peace Corps Suspends Program in Uzbekistan:

“It is with regret that I make this announcement, but the Peace Corps only operates its programs in countries where it is invited by the host government and is able to provide proper documentation for each volunteer,” said Director Vasquez. The remaining Peace Corps volunteers have left the country and are returning to the United States. These volunteers have been serving their assigned communities for more than a year.

Over the weekend, a volunteer who served in Uzbekistan the past couple years gave me a little information on the tensions between Peace Corps and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It seems that Uzbekistan has kind of hoped for this to happen for a while–all part of the country’s rhetorical Juche-lite and fear of pernicious foreign influences that can potentially interfere with Karimov’s reform plans. I wonder if he realizes the only way to entirely stop any foreign influence is to stop letting Uzbeks leave the country for study, etc. He could just hide it like Turkmenbashi and make foreign degrees and study meaningless in Uzbekistan.

Anyway, when the visa problem came up before, Peace Corps staff had to stage a sit-in at the MFA to get visas renewed. Why the reluctance on the MFA’s part? Because Peace Corps was considered an NGO; a thing by its very definition scary and bad and disruptive in the wake of the Rose Revolution. Pointing out that Peace Corps is different in that it’s a government organization apparently only gave the MFA more of a reason get itself worked up (as if they didn’t know in the first place…).

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the only thing Karimov is gaining with the “Toe my line or hit the road” attitude is an impressive collection of burnt bridges.

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[P.S. Laurence, thanks for posting this–Nathan]

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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JP June 6, 2005 at 3:47 pm

Let us all remember these UZ PCVs as they are leaving Uzbekistan, and remember as well the Uzbeks whom they served with, came to love, and will greatly miss. Having been one of the PCVs evacuated in Sep. 01, I know how difficult this must be for them all.

Anonymos June 8, 2005 at 12:09 pm

The Visa thing seems alot like what happended in Russia. Putin did call them spies again and maybe this is a follow through?

I hope we can talk to some of the evacuated PCVs. You got in trouble if you talked to the ones they took out of Russia. An email saying you are not allowed to communicate with them.

At least they can pick a any country to serve in now, if they want to start from scratch again.

Anonymous June 9, 2005 at 6:34 pm


Hugh Pickens at PCOL(Peace Corps Online) sent me an email asking who I am and where I live, etc. He just started attacking. Its not like he was’nt just funded by Peace Corps, like the NPCA(National Peace Corps Association).

Anyway, I sent the whole thing to Homeland Security, the FBI, and some foreign countries.

Jeez, I thought the former Director of Peacecorps did not call PCVs bad names or whatever. Really! I’m not a reporter for that investigative newspaper………

Anonymous June 9, 2005 at 6:46 pm

Wanderlustress has me a little concerned. She just cancelled everything before the country was ended. I’d like to see an article at Peace Corps or the NPCA with her experiences there and what America should do now.

I think she has alot to offer us and now it would be time to take advantage of her experience.

For the best…
I have decided to close down this blog for the foreseeable future in the interest of Peace Corps as an institution, and the service of the PCVs who continue to serve in Uzbekistan.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to communicate with you via email:

03:16 AM | Permalink

Scott Allan Wallick July 24, 2005 at 11:35 pm

After Peace Corps suspended its program in Nepal, I believe some volunteers went on to continue in Uzbekistan. I know I served with an Andrew who had been pulled out of Uzbekistan after the program had been suspended after 9/11. It’s a circle and it doesn’t stop.

For those going on to serve after Peace Corps/Uzbekistan, what are your plans? Is this it? Who knows!

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