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February 13, 2004

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Money flows from Ho Chi Minh City, it's Vietnam's richest. However, North Vietnam controls the South. Northerners hold all administrative and police posts. Regulations forbid any person who fought against the communists from owning property and the repression extends three generations: these laws apply to a person's children and children's children. We met an ex-South Vietnamese soldier who felt abandoned by his American allies. The Vietnamese government branded him a traitor, sent him to a re-education camp for 10 years (really a prisoner of war camp), and today keeps him from taking a job, getting a pension, buying property, or owning a business. His children and grandchildren suffer under the same bans, including no education. He wanted the USA to grant him refugee status but this never happened. He claims that a lot of soldiers who were loyal to the USA and South Vietnamese government have lost everything and receive no relief. Now he takes money under-the-table as a tour guide (he learned English during the War fighting with Americans). He says that the war is over but not forgotten by either side. Repression of the south keeps a stranglehold.
The Communist government discriminates against American collaborators yet doesn't mind if new cafes are named after American rock-n-roll groups.