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THE NATIONAL LIBERATION Front is the only political organization in southern Vietnam that represents the aspirations of the Vietnamese people for social justice, national independence and reunification with North Vietnam. Although the shooting war has diminished in intensity and U.S. warplanes no longer are bombing Vietnam into oblivion, the NLF still needs--and merits--support from people in this country.
The United States government established the dictatorial Nguyen Van Thieu regime in 1965 and since then has kept it breathing, first with 550,000 U.S. ground troops bolstered with a massive onslaught from the air, later, by subsidizing Thieu's million-man army and police apparatus.
Since 1965, Thieu has served his American masters well. He has outlawed political opposition, tossed over 100,000 of his political opponents into jail, including his chief opponent in the 1967 elections, and extended his police apparatus, replete with an extensive identification card system, until it weighs heavily on the lives of the majority of the Vietnamese people.
The National Liberation Front was always strongest in rural areas. Its policy of local participation in effecting extensive land reform appealed to peasants oppressed by an inequitable colonial land tenure system. Its courageous resistance to the American war also attracted widespread support. But now terror bombing has herded many of the peasants into the cities, where Thieu's police can watch over them and make NLF efforts difficult. The extent of this forced urbanization is telling: southern Vietnam, 20 per cent urban in the early 1960s, is over 60 per cent urban today.
The peasants forced into the hovels that ring Vietnamese cities live a precarious life on the edge of existence: they are cut off from their ancestral homelands, they cannot find work, they are plagued by the disease and malnutrition that strikes hardest at the shantytowns. They are kept barely alive by American aid.
The Vietnamese peasants want to go home. But they are prevented from returning to their rice fields by Thieu's police, who restrict travel within the country, and by his army, which keeps the war simmering against the NLF.
The end of Thieu's repression can be hastened by a cut-off in American aid to his government. Without U.S. assistance, his army, the fourth-largest in the world, will be unable to survive, and his government will soon follow it into well-deserved oblivion. As the Vietnamese return to their homes, the National Liberation Front will be able to continue its land reform program and construct a national state based on popular support which will be free from foreign domination.
The Crimson has supported the National Liberation Front for the past four years. The altered situation in Vietnam leaves that support unchanged. The U.S. must cut off all direct aid to the Thieu regime and permit the Vietnamese people to determine their own destiny.
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