The following is part of the speech delivered by Vice-chair Ella Rule to an audience of party members, supporters and guests at the CPGB-ML’s international solidarity barbecue on 28 July 2018.
Support for revolutionary Laos
Another extremely honoured guest here this afternoon is Comrade Keo Vongxay, deputy chief of mission at the Lao People’s Democratic Republic embassy in London.
Again, the people of Laos have a proud anti-imperialist history, having fought and defeated the French colonialists who had occupied their country. Laotian progressive elements, led by the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP), then joined Vietnam in its struggle against US imperialism.
Once US imperialism had been defeated in 1975, the Lao monarchy was overthrown and the government was formed by the LPRP patriots.
Few countries had until that time been subjected to the same level of barbarity by US imperialism as was Laos. Between 1964 and 1973, the US dropped 2 million tons of bombs on Laos, nearly equal to the 2.1 million tons of bombs the US dropped on Europe and Asia during all of World War Two, making Laos the most heavily-bombed country in history relative to the size of its population. The New York Times noted this was “nearly a ton for every person in Laos”. (Fred Branfman, who exposed bombing of Laos, dies at 72 by William Yardley, 6 October 2014)
Some 80 million bombs failed to explode and remain scattered throughout the country, rendering vast swathes of land impossible to cultivate and killing or maiming 50 Laotians every year.
Laos still making progress, despite all obstacles
This has crippled the Lao economy even to this day, but, undaunted, the Lao people have pressed ahead to develop their country, with plans to turn it into a powerhouse for generating renewable energy for the benefit of all the countries of the region.
This is being done by building dams to harness the force of the country’s fast-flowing rivers to produce electricity. Unfortunate news has reached us this week, however. Such a daring plan is bound to suffer setbacks from time time to time, and last Monday a dam that was under construction burst its banks in exceptionally heavy weather conditions.
Five billion cubic metres of water swept through the surrounding countryside after the accident at a hydropower dam in southeastern Attapeu province. Five neighbouring villages bore the brunt of flooding, which has reportedly destroyed thousands of homes. Dozens of people have been killed or are missing.
This is, of course, a terrible setback, for which we offer the people of Laos our sincere condolences. We are, however, entirely convinced that the indomitable will of the Lao people will prevail to overcome all difficulties in the end.
As they saying goes: if the difficulties have not yet been overcome, then it is not yet the end.