[Marxism] Laos on the Road to Development

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 23 10:43:41 MST 2007


"Cuban doctors helped our patriots before the triumph of
our liberation struggle, during the time of the US
bombings. Now Cuba is sending a medical brigade to help in
program of disease prevention. For that reason the
Communist Party, government and people of Laos are grateful
for the solidarity from the island, both during the war and
in the period of national construction."

===========================================================
    COMMENT: Cuba's medical aid program is NOTHING NEW, 
    it has been going on for decades. Cuba has offered
    such timely and important assistance, even to the
    United States, despite nearly half a century of US
    blockade directed at the country. Washington didn't
    accept the Cuban offer, but should have, since it's 
    still in need of help rebuilding in New Orleans.
    It's time for the US to normalize relations NOW!    
===========================================================

GRANMA
November 23, 2007


Laos on the Road to Development

Interview with Laotian Ambassador Phouangkeo Langsy

ARNALDO MUSA
musa.amp at granma.cip.cu

News reports from Laos state that the Southeast Asian country
continues to show considerable economic growth, is lowering its
poverty and infant mortality rates, continues to be free of poppy
cultivation for opium, and maintains both political and social
stability, indispensable in the building of socialism.

"Political and social stability are key in implementing the plans to
improve the country's overall quality of life," said the Laotian
ambassador to Cuba, Phouangkeo Langsy, in an interview with Granma.

French colonialism and US aggression almost brought Laos back to the
Stone Age, with many of its people forced to sleep in caves. US
planes alone dropped some two million tons of bombs on Laos, an
incredible per capita ratio, and people in Laos are still dying as a
consequence of this aggression.

Thirty-two years ago, when the independence struggle triumphed and
the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic was proclaimed on December 2,
1975, the country was the poorest in Asia and among the least
developed on the planet.

But after a series of policies implemented in 1986, the Gross
Domestic Product has grown by an average of 6.2 percent and this year
it will be even higher, according to Langsy. "The GDP had been $200
US per person and today it is at 600; the country is not only
self-sufficient in rice production but is now exporting rice and 60
percent of families now have electricity."

"he infant mortality rate dropped by 130 for each 1,000 live births
to 60 in 2007 [.] and each province now has a hospital, each
municipality a polyclinic, and each hamlet a health post. Life
expectancy rose from 50 years in the 1980s to 63.5; literacy is now
over 80 percent, and education at the primary school to university
level rose from 38 percent in 1985 to 64 percent. Poverty dropped
from 50 percent of the Laotian families in the past decade to 27
percent, and the goal is to reduce it to 15 percent by 2010."

What difficulties do you face in overcoming underdevelopment?

"In Laos there are 49 ethnic groups. Many of them live in remote
areas with difficult road access. That means you have to work hard to
maintain unity, end opium production and implement correct farming
methods that don't damage the environment like the traditional slash
and burning of the forests."

On February 2, 2006, Laos was recognized internationally for having
declared itself free of the poppy with a program that helped families
who had previously made a living off of it, along with an education
initiative for young people and efforts to impede the transportation
of poppies through the country.

Is the general public helping in the effort to eradicate poverty?

"It would be impossible without their participation, for what they
represent in the development of the rural areas where the majority of
the country's six million inhabitants live, in the growth of the
small-scale infrastructure and the push for education and
healthcare."

The ambassador also noted that Laos has diplomatic relations with 127
countries and is present in many international organizations. Some 40
countries and territories have investments in Laos, led by China and
followed by Vietnam.

Talking about the country's ties with Cuba, Phouangkeo Langsy said,
"They are not only excellent and special but come from the heart
because Cuban doctors helped our patriots before the triumph of our
liberation struggle, during the time of the US bombings. Now Cuba is
sending a medical brigade to help in program of disease prevention.
For that reason the Communist Party, government and people of Laos
are grateful for the solidarity from the island, both during the war
and in the period of national construction."





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