Help: I need info on Laos

Sam Pawlett rsp at
Thu Dec 30 00:18:59 MST 1999

fajardos at wrote:
> Can anyody give me any information on the current gov't and
> political/social situation in Laos?

 There is really only one book in English on Laotian history: *A History
of Laos* by
Martin Stuart Fox. CAmbridge U Press.1998. Also Warner, R *Backfire. THe
CIA's Secret War in Laos and its Link to the War in Vietnam.* is good
for the massive CIA operations amongst Vang Pao and the Hmong people
aimed at defeating the Pathet Lao revolutionaries.

 The Stuart Fox book has some good information in it but it is
anti-communist and
  The Lao People's Revolutionary Party has followed the line set by the
Vietnamese and Chinese parties,  giving up on all pretexts about
building socialism  at the party convention in 1985. What followed was
similar to what has happened in China and Vietnam: the liberalization
of trade and foreign investment as a growth and development model. The
results have been similar too, economic growth combined with serious
social problems; inequality, corruption and unemployment. The Laos
government tried its best to follow an admirable neutral policy
concerning the fighting amongst its neighbors in the 70's and 80's.
 As in Vietnam and Cambodia, one of the most serious problems in Laos is
the environmental damage done by the massive carpet bombing undertaken
by the US in the 60's and 70's and the attempts at crash economic
development. There are a lot of land mines too. Laos used to be called
"The Land of a Million elephants" Now there are several hundred left and
all under attack from poachers.

Here's a bit of that Fox book;

"The environmental impact of rapid economic development was also a
matter of real concern. Problems already evident included deforestation,
soil erosion, water pollution, ecological degradation and loss of
species diversity. Construction of hydroelectric dams threatened not
only to inundate valuable agricultural land and displace  vulnerable
minority communities, but also to affect water quality and flow. OF
greatest threat to the environment,however, was the rate of
deforestation due to both timber extraction and slash and burn
cultivation. Mountain minorities continued to resist resettlement, while
attempts by the government to impose export quotas on unsawn timber were
frustrated by illegal  extraction and smuggling, usually with the
connivance of provincial authorities. while as much as half of all
remaining Lao forests remain virtually inaccessible, deforestation was
already causing erosion and degradation of fragile tropical soils." p205

Familiar story, eh?

Sam Pawlett

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