Mission on the Ho Chi Minh trail: nature, myth, and war in Viet Nam

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Then, in , it was the battles of Muong Phine and Muong Sepone. These were finally liberated. I was in the village at that time. I was carrying out the same task, I was still a porter [lam lieng]. I was carrying rice, cigarettes, oil, and so on, up to Muang Phine. Then, in , I left. My uncle and brother came to take me.

The Blood Road : The Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Vietnam War by John Prados (1998, Hardcover)

At that point, I knew I wanted to leave! Because first, I was full of hatred, I hated the en- emy! And secondly, I wanted to study, I especially wanted to study! At that Dommen , With the recent inclusion of the Neo Lao Hak Sat NLHS into the government, sup- plementary elections were called, which would provide for representation of the new party in the Assembly and so complete the process of national integration that began at Geneva.

To this end, twenty additional parliamentary seats were created and elections were scheduled for May But as the elections approached, hos- tilities between the two camps deepened, with the political struggle on the ground becoming increasingly violent. The NLHS, with its electoral ally, the left-wing Santhiphab Peace Party, eventually won thirteen of the twenty-one seats that were contested in the election. These results proved enough to alarm the right- wing politicians and their U.

In actuality, the electoral gains obtained by the leftist camp merely reflected a real- ity already entrenched in some eastern parts of the country — north and south alike — i. Their two bat- talions had recently fled Luang Prabang and Huaphan provinces to reach North Vietnam and had hardly had any time to regroup by the time sixteen of their leaders were arrested and detained in Vientiane. I could only speak. I sacrificed [sala] myself. I left the family, the village, around June 20, I joined the propaganda group [kong kon kwai] in the province of Muang Phine.

I followed my uncle, my brother. This was clearly a determining factor in her decision to join the Revolution and to devote her life to the revolutionary struggle, though the weight of fate never completely disappears in her remembrances. During the period of renewed political turmoil in Laos, which began in and ended, temporarily, with the Second Geneva Accords of , the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese forces made significant territorial gains, extending their control into new areas of the country.

Muong Sepone, which became one of the most important centers for the North Vietnamese transportation net- 80 work, fell in In the years that followed, she indefatigably contributed to the war effort, traveling to wherever her help was needed and living with the villagers, mainly women and children, who had fled the bombings and lived scattered in the forests.

I followed the older sis- ters, they were more experienced. The people [pasason] cultivated the hay, so did we!


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We were by their side. The people were pounding rice, so were we.

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The people went and fetched water, so did we. They were look- ing for food, and we helped them. We never stopped, never had a break, we were by their side, with the children, with the grown-ups. We kept go- ing [pay, pay]! We also went with the soldiers. We were looking for food, bamboo shoots, and so on.

In See Pholsena Qiang , Ang , Having been recruited into the struggle, she in turn mobilized children to join the Revolution, and in the same manner of her own recruitment, promised them a bright, though elusive, future: I was mobilizing the population [ladom]. I was recruiting children. I per- suaded them to go and study, to become teachers, soldiers, nurses, doc- tors.

During the day, we were working in the rice field and returned home in the evening. After dinner, there were dances. I was always the first to be chosen to carry out the work [khat lieuk to daen]. Because I was young and hard working, because I never stopped working. I lived with the people, I fetched the water, I looked for food, for wood. I lived in places where life was tough, with widows, single women, orphans, it was with them I shared my life. Those were my tasks in the propaganda group from to Through the lens of her personal narrative, Pa Phaivanh personifies the model patriot whose life demanded a high degree of self-sacrifice, if not total abandonment to the Revolution.

She never married and did not have any chil- dren bo mii luk, bo mii phua. In her exemplary narration, Pa Phaivanh never mentioned her personal suffering. The harshness of her life during the war is perceptible though, particularly in the mid to late s when villagers and revolutionaries alike lacked food, and more or less everything else, and had to rely on the forest to subsist. Nevertheless, Pa Phaivanh never ex- pressed anything other than collective ordeals.

Yet, had she found the words and been willing to, she may have told us of her regrets of not having children or never marrying, her fear and panic during the bombings or when facing possi- ble death, the battles against diseases and exhaustion, or her sorrow at the death of villagers or comrades-in-arms. Portelli , 38, emphasis in the original. The inclination to or- ganize experience in terms of plots is A dwelling on stilts fashioned from the remnants of bomb shells deeply human. At the end of her interview, Pa Phaivanh modestly expressed her contentment and gratitude toward the State for the house and her monthly war veteran pension.

She has kept her revolutionary vir- tues pristine until the end. When we finally saw it, it was hard to believe that it belonged to a renowned former revolutionary. Though it stood only a few meters away, the tiny hut was hardly visible from the road. Like Pa Phaivanh, she never married and did not have any children. She was born in Dakrong, a 86 Taliang village, in the district of Dachung in the present-day province of Sekong , and joined the Revolution sometime during the s in her teens.

Bourdieu , Turner , Bruner , 8.

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They kept beating me. I nearly died. I in fact did die from all the beating but came back to life again! After that, I left the village for good and carried out my work in the district! And why? Because nobody liked me? I came down from the mountains to work in town, groups formed of minority people were created. It was hard. Now that I think about it, I and other women from minority villages…endured oppression and ex- ploitation.

We are stricter than the Lao [lowland Lao] in protecting and re- specting our customs and traditions. We had to recruit and train new agents, our country was in trouble, oppressed, exploited. It was harder for a woman than a man. Once married and with children, I would not be able to carry out my activi- ties anymore. Who can face them? We were told that the state would not abandon us once we won independence. But by then what would I need?

Had I married, we would have just lived our lives as a couple, on our own, just Engelbert ; Pholsena The area became a northern Vietnamese military stronghold during the Second Indochina War.

go here In particular, large base areas were built at Chavane, which was lo- cated on a strategic junction at the borders between Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia and was an entry point into southern Vietnam. My friends said that I was being fussy. My decision, my own, was to adopt and love the children of the people like my own. Was there a choice for Pa Phet to make? Or did she prefer to remember that in the end it was truly her own choice?

She was not afraid to speak her mind, though, even to strangers such as us, or perhaps precisely because she had never met us before. Her narrative continued to drift between past and present, filled with emotions and introspection. I worked, I stud- ied, I left for Vietnam three times, the first time for six months studying at the first level, intermediate level, then at the high level.

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People I meet with, we always talk about the difficulties and the tough times we went through during our revolutionary activities. We talk to each other. It was such a tough life [tuk]! People told me that I was stronger than men in the fight- ing against the enemy and that I was very determined.

We were in charge of the youth and the women in Dakchung, Sansay, Kalum, defying the planes and all sorts of things. I bought the materials myself to build this house. We had nothing then. But we had fun, we ate and lived with the people. We walked together happily.

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Though during those trips fear was still every- where: fear of tigers, snakes, the enemy, spirits…of everything! Because all my life has been with the Party. If now I can no longer travel, I still can see the way. The slo- gan of our revolution was the welfare of the people first, that of the agents second.