By Caribbean News Now contributor
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — The US government has evacuated its Peace Corps volunteers from St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) at short notice after their safety was threatened by what appears to be a modern-day equivalent of Eric Gairy’s infamous paramilitary “Mongoose Gang” in neighbouring Grenada.
According to the US embassy in Barbados, the Peace Corps volunteers were airlifted from St Vincent to Saint Lucia due to a specific safety reason, without elaborating on the precise reason.
However, a US government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Caribbean News Now that an influential regional government had falsely informed the government of SVG that Peace Corps personnel were in fact US intelligence agents.
As a result, a gang of thugs said to be acting under the direction of the son of SVG’s prime minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, vandalised Peace Corps vehicles and left threatening messages.
It is not yet known what, if any, the longer-term US response might be; however, the Peace Corps volunteers will be debriefed in detail by the FBI and other relevant agencies on their return to the US.
The Peace Corps, which was established by an Executive Order issued by President John F. Kennedy on March 1, 1961, is a volunteer program. Its stated mission includes providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand American culture, and helping Americans to understand the cultures of other countries.
The Peace Corps began service in SVG in 1967.