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Chile Case Study


Source: Weil, Thomas E. et. al. 1969. Area Handbook for Chile. Foreign Area Studies, The American University, Washington, D.C.

Chile is a long, thin country that stretches 2,650 miles from its northern borders with Bolivia and Peru to the southern tip of South America along the Pacific Ocean. Only 110 miles wide on the average, Chile encompasses landscapes and climates that vary from desert where no rainfall has ever been recorded, to tundra inhabited only by penguins. Santiago, the capital city founded by the Spanish in 1541, is located in Chile's central valley. A Spanish colony for three centuries, Chile fought for her independence along with her neighbors, and by 1823 was a free, united country.

Chile is one of the most sophisticated countries in South America, with a literacy rate of over 90% and a labor force that contains large numbers of highly trained professionals. Mining of copper, iron, and nitrates accounts for more than 80% of Chile's export earnings, while agriculture accounts for only 10%. Traditionally, agriculture in Chile consisted of a small number of very large farms. Eighty percent of the viable land was taken up by only 7% of the country's farms. Since 1972, land reform has been breaking up large farms into smaller parcels worked by farm families. However, due to a lack of investment and inadequate mechanization, these small farms do not produce as much as the larger farms did previously. As a result, Chile imports much of its food.

Although very developed in some ways, today Chile still has 2 to 3 million people who live in extreme poverty. Services for the poor recently have been reduced or eliminated in an effort to decrease inflation, and as result, malnutrition, unemployment and poverty-related diseases are on the rise. Recognizing these problems, Chile began requesting Peace Corps volunteers to work in agriculture programs in 1962. Volunteers first began working with fishermen in 1964.

Fisheries in Chile: An Overwiew

Chile had a very highly developed commercial fishing industry, and fishing for such species as tuna, mackerel, flounder, swordfish, bluefish, and king crab was important to the economy in the 1960's. One of Chile's major exports was the anchovy, or anchoveta, which was ground up and sold as fish meal and used in animal feed. High anchovy yields were attributed to the presence of cold, nutrient-rich waters along the shore. These productive waters, a result of coastal upwelling, were driven by prevailing southerly winds along the Chilean and Peruvian coastline. The anchovy catch in Chile, however, was unpredictable due to a phenomenon called "El Nino." This phenomenon was created by a change in wind direction to a northerly wind which resulted in displacement of the colder waters by warmer, nutrient poor water. Anchovy populations were reduced either by migration to the preferred colder waters or by direct kill. Chile's commercial species were subject to unpredictable changes such as El Nino, and as a result, fishermen would overfish traditional grounds when fish were available.

Most of Chile's fishing, however, was still done by small fishermen working just off the coast in small boats up to 30 feet in length. The fishermen were encouraged to belong to the fishing cooperatives, and in 1966 Chile had 38 legally-operating cooperatives along the coast. Each cooperative had from 10 to 30 boats, called faluchos, equipped with either marine diesel motors or sails. Fishermen who were members of cooperatives handed over their catch to the cooperative, which sold the fish in the public market or directly to a client at the dock. The cooperative thus effectively eliminated the middleman, and ensured a better profit to the fishermen. Most fishermen also needed help in fishing techniques and methods, and the cooperatives needed assistance in accounting and other basic management skills. Commercial fishermen needed more information on the biology of important fish species and other marine resources. Two volunteers worked with fishing cooperatives from 1964 to 1966, and as a result of their successes, Chile requested its first group of marine fisheries volunteers from the Peace Corps in 1966.

Peace Corps Involvement with Chilean Fisheries

The first group of marine fisheries volunteers for Chile was recruited by Peace Corps late in 1966. This group of 19 volunteers was trained at the University of New Mexico and at Humboldt State College in California, where they received intensive training in fisheries and in the operation of Chilean fishing cooperatives. The volunteers had little background or experience in fishing, although several had degrees in accounting or business. The volunteers were requested by the Instituto de Desarrollo Agropecuario (INDAP), the country's agricultural development agency, although they were to be assigned to individual cooperatives and were responsible to the cooperatives rather than to INDAP.

The Peace Corps contracted with Humboldt State College to provide technical services to these volunteers once they were in the field. This included providing a technical consultant stationed in Chile. This consultant was a returned Peace Corps volunteer who had experience in rural areas and could communicate easily with Chilean government officials. He worked as a technical Peace Corps staff person for the entire two-year period that this group was incountry.

Prior to each volunteer's arrival at their sites, INDAP sent a letter to each cooperative explaining who the volunteer was, what he was expected to do, and what the Peace Corps objectives were. The Peace Corps also informed cooperatives of the volunteers' arrival through site visits by the Humboldt State representative. Although nearly every cooperative was expecting a volunteer, their reception varied greatly. Some volunteers were met by their cooperative leaders, introduced to all coop members, and given a place to stay, while others had to go find the coop representative by themselves. In general, volunteers were well-received and cooperative members looked forward to working with them.

Each volunteer was given a letter of introduction from INDAP's Central Office in Santiago to their field representatives in the area of each cooperative. There was some confusion among the volunteers as to which division of INDAP they were supposed to work with. The original Peace Corps agreement had been with INDAP's Subdivision de Asistencia Cooperativa, which provided cooperative assistance to both agricultural and fishing cooperatives. Another section, the Division de Asistencia Tecnica y Crediticia, provided financial and technical aid to cooperative members. The Subdivision only had two full-time and two part time field representatives, while the Division had between eight and twelve field representatives with whom volunteers had more contact. Both sections felt they should be the only ones working with volunteers. However, since the Subdivision had requested the volunteers, they were responsible to that agency.

Another problem that surfaced resulted from the fact that INDAP only recently had been given responsibility for fishing cooperatives. As a result, no formal plan existed for the development of fishing cooperatives or for utilization of the volunteers. Other agencies in Chile were working with fishing communities as well, such as the Instituto de Fomento Pesquero (IFOP), the Institute for Fisheries Development.

Volunteers often worked with several fisheries agencies and found themselves torn between them.

In each of their cooperatives, volunteers gained acceptance at first simply by going fishing with cooperative members. Most volunteers were able to gain the confidence of coop members and found it easy to move into discussions about the coop, participate in coop meetings, and make suggestions to solve some of their problems. Volunteers were able to establish new cooperative business filing systems, teach new fishing skills, train cooperative members in accounting and basic management skills, and create a greater sense of unity among members. Volunteers developed a simple manual on accounting, slide shows and other educational aids for fishermen.

Most volunteers felt that their success depended greatly upon their ability to communicate in Spanish. Those who were fluent had less difficulty working with cooperatives than those who had trouble speaking. During the two-year tour, four volunteers left the country, and three changed their job sites. Volunteers with technical backgrounds felt that people with community development training were needed to work on fishing communities as a whole, while volunteers with community development training believed more technical volunteers were needed. However, for the most part all of these volunteers were considered to be successful, and INDAP anticipated using more volunteers in fishing cooperatives. There is some evidence that over 60 volunteers participated in INDAP's cooperative program during a seven year period, but little information is available to describe the program or its results.

The Second Group Volunteers

A second group of marine fisheries volunteers was requested in 1968 by the Institute for Fisheries Development (IFOP) to act as samplers gathering data in seaports on the catch of commercial and artisanal fishermen. Peace Corps recruited 16 volunteers for IFOP in 1969. This group of volunteers was trained at the University of Washington in fish marketing, fish processing, statistical techniques used in Chile, classification of Chilean fishes, use of fish gear in commercial fisheries, fish management, and the microbiology of fish spoilage. When this program was planned, Peace Corps didn't know if marine biologists with the necessary skills would be available, so their Job descriptions were very vague. At the end of recruiting, however, it was clear that the volunteers were highly skilled, so the job descriptions were rewritten for more technical positions within IFOP. These volunteers were switched from mere data-gathering to active research. However, this switch did not occur until two months of training already had taken place training which was no longer relevant to the jobs the volunteers would have.

When these volunteers arrived in September of 1969, they were assigned to the Natural Resources Division of IFOP. This division consisted of four sections biology, stock assessment and assistance, shellfish, and distribution and abundance. Within each section, volunteers were treated as employees of IFOP, responsible to the Chilean in charge. Volunteers worked with Chilean scientists on projects such as research on the life history and abundance of commercially important mollusks, crustacea and fish; population dynamics of important commercial fish species; and special research related to the degrees of each volunteer. Volunteers also worked on the development of a computer program to improve the analysis of catch statistics for IFOP.

This project had several problems, however, because it was not well defined from the beginning. Volunteers often found themselves assigned to projects that did not exist, or which had no funding for equipment. Local supervisors were not consulted about volunteers nor even told of the volunteers' arrival. Four volunteers assigned to IFOP moved to universities where they got support to do research on the use of algae for fertilizer, and the biology and life history of halce, a common Chilean fish. Volunteers also had trouble working with Chilean scientists because of differing attitudes towards research. The volunteers were considered by the Chileans to be cold, unemotional people, an attribute that is not favorable in Chilean eyes, while the volunteers found Chilean scientists to have a different educational focus and a lack of interest in their research. Thus there was animosity between volunteers and their counterparts. This was exacerbated by the fact that many volunteers felt they were taking jobs away from qualified Chilean professionals.

Support from Peace Corps also appeared inadequate. The only Peace Corps staff person with an interest in fisheries projects, the Humboldt State College representative, left the country one month after this group of volunteers arrived, and there was no one to take his place. Volunteers felt that Peace Corps was responsible for their inappropriate training, their lack of jobs and support from IFOP, and felt that Peace Corps had given them misleading information about the status of research in Chile. In general, these volunteers were dissatisfied, but even so were able to contribute to the scientific development of Chilean fisheries. Apparently IFOP felt volunteers had made valuable contributions because they requested six more volunteers to work in the Technology Division in 1970.

The Third Group of Volunteers

In 1970 IFOP became more interested in the use of fish and fish products to provide the necessary protein in people's diets. They requested volunteers to work in nutrition, food science, microbiology, and chemical engineering. Their objectives were to increase the utilization of products of the fishing industry, promote export of fish products, create new sources of employment, and train Chileans in food science and technology, nutrition, and microbiology of foods. The volunteers were to work as part of teams doing research in IFOP laboratories. These teams were to achieve the IFOP objectives by improving existing fish products, methods and techniques of fish processing; developing new products and increasing quality and variety of food produced in Chile; lowering production costs and initiating quality control; and promoting the fish products industry. It is not clear if these volunteers were recruited and sent to Chile. However, there are detailed job descriptions available that indicate the positions were given much thought. Presumably volunteers with these skills were found and placed in these fields

Volunteers with Special Skills

Starting with the highly-skilled marine biologists recruited for IFOP in 1969, Chile began requesting volunteers with special skills for assignment in a variety of research and fisheries development programs. By 1974, Peace Corps was providing individual placement volunteers who had technical backgrounds for work in the development of regional seafood marketing cooperatives, fisheries education, and marine ecology research. Most of these volunteers had no technical training since they were recruited for specialized positions, but all received language and some cross-cultural training prior to their placement. For example, one volunteer who arrived in 1974 had a degree in business administration. He was assigned to a cooperative which had been taken over by the Government of Chile because of its poor management. The cooperative was owned by one family, and they were exploiting the cooperative members to make a profit for themselves. The volunteer worked with the coop to improve seafood distribution and general coop administration. After one year, he transferred to a university to teach fishery marketing. His support came from Peace Corps and the university, but he clearly was responsible for most of his own supervision. This volunteer developed fisheries newsletters for cooperatives and the commercial fishing industry, and produced a radio program on Chile's fishery resources. He was considered a successful volunteer although his original job was not well defined and he found his job after the first did not work out.

Another volunteer who arrived during this same period had a degree in marine biology and was requested to serve as a professor at the Catholic University in Valparaiso. This volunteer taught courses in aquaculture and ecological sampling techniques, and did some research. He had a counterpart who left three months after he arrived to do graduate work in France. The only support he received was from the university, but due to political troubles even that was often curtailed. This volunteer felt that he was replacing a qualified Chilean professional, and recommended that Peace Corps not place any more volunteers at the university.

In 1975, the first Smithsonian/ Peace Corps volunteers arrived in Chile. One volunteer, a marine biologist with six years of experience, went to the University of Chile, where he taught ecology, marine biology, ecological sampling techniques, statistics, and tidal organisms identification and ecology. This volunteer also collected data on a local clam, the taca. During the second year at the university he worked on the taca exclusively, investigating spawning, raising, and culturing of the clam. He was supported in these activities by the Smithsonian coordinator and by the Peace Corps, especially by a Chilean staff member in Santiago who kept interest in fisheries programs alive. He also received some support from the university, and had good, hardworking counterparts.

Another Smithsonian volunteer with a degree in oceanography worked jointly for the the University of the North and Catholic University. For the University of the North the volunteer initiated studies in the development of a locally-produced antifoulant paint. This project was too ambitious an undertaking and was not adequately supported by the university. For the Catholic University the volunteer obtained information for developing a resource management plan for a local shellfish, the loco. This volunteer had a couterpart and received some equipment from the university, as well as support from a private institution, the Chile Foundation. This project was considered a success due to the greater resources available through the Catholic University. However, at this volunteer's recommendation, no more volunteers were sent to work at the university. Like volunteers before him, he felt that he was replacing qualified Chilean professionals.

In 1976, two more volunteers arrived in Chile, one to work on an oil spill in Punta Arenas, and another to work with a Catholic University in southern Chile. The volunteer who worked on the oil spill received support from the Patagonian Institute and the Shell Oil Company, and published two papers in the Institute's Journal on the oil spill and its effects. Although the Institute requested more volunteers after this volunteer completed his tour of duty, Peace Corps decided not to recruit any more.

The volunteer assigned to the Catholic University in southern Chile had degrees in biology and marine science, and had been in the US Navy. He taught courses in general ecology, and conducted laboratory sessions. He worked with Chileans to design several courses and lab exercises. He also did research on using kelp for agricultural purposes, the ecology of kelp beds, and a review of artisan fishing methods, equipment, and species of fish caught. This volunteer did not receive much support from the University or Peace Corps; however, he felt that he was successful in teaching and that he left behind several good courses for future Chilean students.

Four more Smithsonian volunteers were recruited for Chile in 1977. These volunteers were supposed to work in fisheries extension with cooperatives in small coastal villages, but each ended up doing research and education of cooperative members. One volunteer was supposed to help a cooperative improve their fishing techniques, but he discovered that they were already overfishing the area, and needed more capital investment in the coop instead. Later on he worked for a university and wrote a booklet on the fish species in the area, including the common local name, scientific name, English equivalent, and classification. The booklet was written for the use of coops and industry, and was published by the university. This volunteer and the others in the group felt that they were taking jobs away from qualified professionals, and that Peace Corps expected them to work as community developers rather than, or in addition to, their primary jobs as fisheries biologists. Few had the training or interest to do so as they considered themselves scientists first and extensionists second. However, by 1979 the Peace Corps began to focus its activities on meeting basic human needs, and Chile again requested volunteers to work in fishing villages.

Peace Corps' New Fisheries Program

In response to a request from Chile's new fishery agency, the Servicio Nacional de Pesca (SNP), the Peace Corps recruited 17 volunteers to work in poor fishing villages, called caletas. These volunteers were trained in community development theory and practice as well as fishing gear, methods, and business skills. Both the Peace Corps and the SNP hope that this program will eliminate some of the problems that volunteers and Chileans had with previous Peace Corps activities. For example, one common complaint was that volunteers felt they were just replacing qualified professionals. Very few Chileans with higher education are willing to live and work in caletas, which are among the poorest sectors of Chile; thus volunteers are providing technical help where no other help would be available. Another problem that highly-skilled volunteers had in earlier programs was the lack of support for their research studies.

Peace Corps is trying to eliminate this problem by recruiting volunteers who are more interested in personal development than professional advancement. All of these factors are being considered by Peace Corps in determining the future of fisheries activities in Chile.

Evaluation of the Project

The Peace Corps marine fisheries projects in Chile have been evaluated formally three times, in 1968, 1970, and 1979. Each evaluation has had a different attitude towards the type of work in which Peace Corps was involved, primarily because during those years the philosophy of Peace Corps changed greatly. In the 1968 evaluation, individual volunteers were evaluated for their successes in fishing cooperatives and the general concensus was that volunteers had been successful in helping cooperative members, and teaching new fishing skills. These volunteers were supported both by Peace Corps and by their host country agency, INDAP. However, this evaluation stated that cooperatives in Chile have problems that volunteers cannot help with, and that the future of Peace Corps programs in fishing cooperatives does not look promising.

The 1970 evaluation, on the other hand, dealt with the problems that specialist volunteers had in Chile. The evaluation stated that this program of highly-trained volunteers seemed to be repeating the same mistakes made in other specialist Peace Corps programs. These mistakes included a lack of communication concerning their program with lower levels of host country agency personnel, and the resulting lack of financial and technical support; inappropriate training by Peace corps and selection of volunteers unable or unwilling to work in unstructured, ambiguous situations; a lack of good advance information about the nature of each volunteer's job that hindered their self preparation; a lack of good crosscultural training to help American scientists understand the attitudes towards research of their Chilean counterparts. The evaluator sums the program up by stating that these volunteers were "... highly specialized scientists and their talent is useless when locked into an unproductive job situation."* The volunteers in this program were recruited to do good, sound, scientific research and they were frustrated by the situations in which they found themselves. Volunteers also felt that Peace Corps should do more investigating of assignments before recruiting volunteers to avoid such situations in the future.

By 1979, Peace Corps had begun to focus on community development rather than scientific research, and the evaluation done that year reflects this. In this evaluation volunteers in fisheries extension and fisheries development were evaluated as to their effectiveness in reaching the poor. The evaluation stated that volunteers placed in caletas were unprepared and unwilling to live and work in caletas full-time, and that they had not received any community development training. It was as a result of this evaluation, based on interviews held early in the year, that a new program began in July that focused on community development programs rather than fisheries development. This 1979 evaluation also stated that several projects undertaken by volunteers had been tried in the 1960's with little success, but that neither volunteers nor staff seemed aware of previous failures. The evaluation concludes with recommendations that Peace Corps should phase out all fisheries volunteers who were not living directly in caletas and that fisheries volunteers should be placed with nongovernmental organizations capable

of giving them the necessary support; that volunteers should be trained in community development; and that studies should be done on certain cooperatives which seem to be exploiting both cooperative members and volunteers to see if Peace Corps should continue to be involved. All of these recommendations seem to have been followed in the development of the fisheries extension program that began in July 1979. It appears that Peace Corps will reexamine its involvement in fisheries in Chile when this program is completed and at that time decide whether to continue in this field.

Successes and Failures

Marine fisheries projects in Chile have been influenced by several factors. When these factors were present, the project succeeded; when they were absent or in short supply, projects did not do as well. These factors include the following:

· The support of host country agencies that requested volunteers had a major impact on individual projects. For example, in the cooperatives program with INDAP, cooperatives were informed of the volunteers arrival and welcomed them. In the program with IFOP, local supervisors were neither consulted on the need for volunteers, nor informed of their arrival. Volunteers working with universities found that support varied, but in all of these projects volunteers questioned the need for highly-skilled specialists. They felt resentment from .counterparts when they took a research job that a trained Chilean could do.

· Peace Corps support varied with the projects as well. The cooperatives project had technical and field support from the representative of Humboldt State College, while the IFOP group had no such support. Volunteers placed individually had little support from Peace Corps, primarily, they felt, because Peace Corps had no technical people on the staff who could understand their problems and support needs.

· Volunteers who worked with local fishermen were accepted based upon their technical skills and their ability to communicate in Spanish, and after initial trial periods, most volunteers felt they were trusted by their cooperative members. Volunteers who worked in more skilled positions were uncomfortable because they felt they were taking jobs away from trained and qualified Chilean professionals. Scientist volunteers were frustrated also by the difference in attitude towards research of the Chilean scientists.

· Volunteers with training in marine fisheries were not given additional training that would enable them to operate more effectively in their communities, while those with community development skills felt that more technically skilled volunteers were needed. Peace Corps itself changed radically over the years, and much of its original expertise in community development was lost. Even when Peace Corps wanted to work such theories into training, volunteers did not feel it was adequate for their needs.

In all of these projects there is an undercurrent which points out a problem that Peace Corps in Chile has had since the beginning of its involvement in marine fisheries. Chile is a fairly developed country with a large commercial fishing industry, and it places priority on scientific research to improve the commercial catch. Historically there has been little interest in artisanal fishermen in Chile. Peace Corps, however, began its projects in Chile by focusing on small coastal fishermen. As projects progressed, Chile asked for more technically-skilled volunteers and Peace Corps tried to comply. Volunteers recruited for these new technical positions had more problems with support and had different expectations of their Peace Crops experience than less technical volunteers; they were frustrated and recommended that Peace Corps not place volunteers in such positions. As a result, Peace Carps has found itself out of tune with both volunteer and host country demands. Today Peace Corps feels that the best approach is working directly with people in their villages, but such assistance will have to be approved by the government. As a result, the future of Peace Corps' involvement in marine fisheries in Chile is uncertain at best.