Laos – A Vietnamese Slave State?
Photo Caption – ‘Now take me to your jungle and your natural resources…’
When I’m in Laos, I always shake my head when I see these absurd monuments erected to remind Laotians that their country remains an invaded, occupied, colonised and ruthlessly exploited vassal of the Vietnamese.
Of course, they’re designed to show something else entirely, namely the magnificent co-operation between the Communist Laotian forces, called the Pathet Lao, and the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War, which ended when the communists finally took control of Laos.
In fact, the Pathet Lao were so disorganized and such poor fighters that without the North Vietnamese backbone they’d have been wiped out in an afternoon by the US-backed Royal Lao Army. Even without the Vietnamese or the Americans, in a straight fight between the Pathet Laos and the government army, they would have got nowhere slowly, given up and gone home.
If these monuments to slavery were just historical, dating from the war period, that would be fine, but the Vietnamese keep building them in Laos, especially in regions where they’re also building roads, colonising towns, stealing the Laotian jungle and building vast plantations of rubber trees.
Yet I can’t ever recall seeing one in Vietnam. If it’s such a big deal for Vietnam, I’d love to see a Laotian government try getting them erected all over the place there.
As I looked at the one above, another convoy of trucks thundered past on their way to Vietnam. They were full of logged Laotian jungle, which is being destroyed by the Vietnamese, to be replaced with enormous plantations of rubber trees. Unfortunately, the Laotian government seems powerless to stop it, even with their recent crackdown.
Our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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