USNS Mercy Completes Mission in Perú

Today, the hospital ship Mercy completed a 6 day visit to the Peruvian port of Callao. While there, according to U.S. Embassy and U.S. Southern Command reports, the medical staff worked in partnership with other Western Hemisphere personnel. They provided health care – including an average of 20 surgeries a day – for more than 4,000 people in “vulnerable populations”, including, explicitly, refugees from the humanitarian disaster in Venezuela. Reportedly, Perú currently harbors about a million Venezuelans who’ve escaped hardship in their home country.

Mercy has made 7 visits to the region since 2007. Over this time, her people have helped build and equip emergency treatment centers in 15 Peruvian locations, and assisted in training the local health professionals who would staff them.

I’ve written about medical diplomacy before. Such activities seek to build friendly relationships with other nations. They can also play interesting propaganda roles, as in this case, where the explicit mention of care for Venezuelan refugees is intended to embarrass the Venezuelan government and help strengthen the coalition of nations opposing that regime.

Perú was the second stop in the ship’s five month mission to visit 12 nations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

(C)2019 Thomas L Snyder

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  • Paul Sayles  On 16 Jul 2019 at 05:26


    Good use of “soft power”. Too bad it doesn`t make the news too much. I was in MERCY for a couple of exercises in 1999 and 2001. A friend made a Westpac deployment in her in the mid-oughts.

    I hope all goes well.


    Paul Sayles


    • thomaslsnyder  On 16 Jul 2019 at 08:37

      My contacts at our Embassy in Lima tell me that the Peruvians are wonderful allies and leaders of a soft coalition against the Madura regime. Of course caring for 4000 of the million Venezuelans in Perú is just a drop in the bucket when you try to assess medical impact. But the propaganda payoff, and the benefit to the anti-Madura coalition of having medical and other personnel working together on a mission everyone can get behind (that is, caring for underserved populations) has got to be pretty great.

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