Laos

Preparing for a Settlement in Vietnam

by Paul Fritz Langer

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An outline of the military, political, and economic situation in Laos and the implications for a settlement in Vietnam. In 1968, the Pathet Lao intensified its military campaign and hardened its political stand, presumably to strengthen its bargaining position prior to a cease-fire in Vietnam. The government-controlled sector of Laos was a laboratory for economic development and modernization, with many countries engaged in economic and technological aid projects. However, the resettlement of 600,000 Pathet Lao refugees was a strain on the Government's meager resources. Information on the economic condition in the Pathet Lao sector is sketchy, but documentary evidence indicates that the economy is a mixed one. The Pathet Lao appear to have achieved greater success in education and vocational training where resource limitations are less severe. In the long run, the future of the country may be significantly affected by the hundreds of young Lao being educated in North Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union. The Pathet Lao have also raised their price for rejoining a coalition government to include a veto over the selection of ministerial candidates. This is coupled with a campaign labeling Souvanna Phouma and his associates as "tools" of U.S. imperialism and therefore "rightists."

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