The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) joined forces with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to support Peru’s aggressive population control program of the late nineties. Then-President Alberto Fujimori was determined to meet international population targets, particularly among Peru’s large ethnic population, and launched an involuntary sterilization campaign with USAID assistance.
A Peruvian official who later complained about USAID involvement, Peru’s former Minister of Health Fernando Carbone, found himself defamed by the U.S. agency, whose pro-abortion partisans were also upset by his opposition to the abortion-inducing morning-after pill. Carbone’s removal from office followed.
Forced Population Control
Following the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, Fujimori was determined to achieve by force what his Ministry of Health had failed to achieve through voluntary family planning, namely to lower the Peruvian birthrate. With the support of USAID and UNFPA, he devised a national plan to sterilize large numbers of Peruvian women.1 The plan, called the Emergency and Alternative Plan, called for an all-out mobilization of the country’s medical personnel to carry out tubal ligations. Fujimori’s Emergency and Alternative Plan relied upon “sterilization festivals” to round up and sterilize large numbers of women. This plan had USAID’s blessing and support.
In 1997, with support and cooperation from USAID, Fujimori established the Family Planning Policies Coordination National Commission (COORDIPLAN) to fully implement his Emergency Plan. That year alone, almost ninety thousand women were sterilized. Over 300,000 women would be sterilized in all.2 Ethnic women were routinely called “pigs” or “dogs” in order to intimidate them to undergo sterilization. Bribes, incentives, and threats of withholding basic services were also used. Sometimes women were sterilized by brute force, or without their foreknowledge or consent during delivery. Sterilizations took place in filthy, USAID-funded clinics. Several women, including Alejandra Aguirre Auccapina and Juana Rosa Ochoa Chira, died shortly after involuntary sterilization procedures.3
Sterilization Programs Evidence of USAID’s close collaboration with Fujimori’s sterilization campaign abounds. For example, USAID funded programs to train military doctors to perform sterilizations, this at a time when the military was being drafted to help carry out the Emergency Plan. USAID also provided generous funding, on the order of $40 million, to Peruvian “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) involved in the Emergency Plan. For instance, $5 million went to REPROSALUD, an NGO which was “formed alter an agreement between the Manuela Ramos Movement, ALTERNATIVA and USAID.” The purpose of REPROSALUD was to promote to ethnic minorities only those methods of family planning approved by the government, which at the time meant sterilization. Women were to be discouraged from bearing additional children or refusing sterilization. USAID also provided $17 million to the Peruvian Programs for Reproductive Health and Family Planning (PRISMA), which distributed USAID contraceptives “in areas in which sterilization festivals were held” and which served as a clearinghouse for funding smaller NGOs that performed involuntary sterilization. USAID provided $18 million to CARE for training doctors to perform sterilization and supplying sterilization equipment used in the coercive campaigns.4
The response of USAID to this evidence of its involvement in Fujimori’s sterilization campaign has been to go into paroxysms of denial — and then to strike back. USAID’s Bureau for Global Health called a Peruvian congressional report which documents USAID’s support of Fujimori’s campaign “officially discredited,”5 despite the fact that this report has been unanimously accepted and approved by the Human Rights Commission of the Peruvian Congress.6
Others who have been attacked by USAID include former Minister of Health Carbone, who had prepared a detailed report on the sterilization campaign including evidence of USAID and UNFPA involvement. Included in this MOH report are documents noting shipments of UNFPA rust-proof steel vasectomy equipment to Fujimori himself, along with other equipment to contracept and sterilize women.7 Shortly after the release of the report, Carbone began to be attacked by USAID-funded groups, ostensibly for his opposition to the abortifacient morning-after pill.
The USAID-UNFPA campaign against Peru’s Health Minister included an ad aired on national Peruvian television. The ad, titled “Women’s Bar,” features a “Sanity Room” and a “Garbage Room.” The Narrator begins, “In the ‘Sanity Room’ we will honor every week those people who have said something worth-while .… And in the ‘Garbage Room’ we will put those speeches and actions contrary to human rights. Let us see what we have this week.”
Peru’s Minister of Health, Dr. Fernando Carbone, is featured in the Garbage Room, The clip shows him saying, “And we, respecting the potential damage to young Peruvian boys and girls — very young but Peruvian all the same — we are not going to implement that methodology.” We then go to the Sanity Room, where Carbone is attacked.8 The ad closes with the USAID logo. USAID paid for this blatant attack on Carbone on Peruvian television.
Opposition to the Minister who reported on USAID-support of coercion has not been limited to TV ads. On May 17, 2002, the USAID representative in Peru, Maria Borneck, signed a group letter lobbying the Minister to approve USAID policy implementing chemical abortion as a method of family planning.9 Borneck was reportedly disciplined for her actions.
Baby-Killing Goes On
All this is to say that, at USAID, the business of sterilizing, aborting, and contracepting the world goes on as usual. When is the Bush Administration, which is nearing the end of its term in office, going to take action? When is it going to live up to its oft-advertised commitment to life and family?
1 Peru’s Ministry of Health, “Final Report Concerning Voluntary Surgical Contraception Activities,” July, 2002.
2 Peru’s Ministry of Health, Prepared by: Office of Congressman Luis Solari, 2002.
3 Peruvian Congressional Subcommittee Investigation of Persons and Institutions Involved in Voluntary Surgical Contraception, “Final Report Concerning Voluntary Surgical Contraception, 1990–2000,” June 2002.
4 Peru’s Ministry of Health, “Final Report Concerning Voluntary Surgical Contraception Activities,” July, 2002.
5 Anne Peterson, USAID Bureau for Global Health, letter dated Jan 7, 2003.
6 “Acta de la Vigesimo Tercera Sesion de la Comision de Derechos Humanos,” Peruvian Congress, June 10, 2003.
7 Letter from Peru’s Health Minister, Eduardo Young Motto, to Alberto Fujimori, March 11, 1996. The letter reads: “We are delivering to your honorable office equipment for vasectomy, Norplant, female sterilization, IUD insertion, Copper T; 10 of each one according to your indication;” UNFPA Packing List, vasectomy equipment, 85E004.01.
8 USAID, UNFPA, “Barra de Mujeres,” aired February 22, 2003 on TV Channel N in Peru, as a co-production of Manuela Ramos 25th Anniversary celebration.
9 Letter dated May 17, 2002 to Peru’s Minister of Health, co-signed USAID representative Maria Borneck.