|Fund for Reconciliation and Development Newsletter|
|Fostering Cooperation with Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Cuba|
|Volume 13:1||Spring 2003|
Bush Administration Reaches Watershed on NTR for Laos
by Catharin Dalpino
On February 24 US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and Secretary of State Colin Powell sent an official request to Congress for support of Normal Trade Relations (NTR) for Laos, and for bringing into force the Bilateral Trade Agreement negotiated in 1997. In order for the administration to bring the Agreement into force, Congress must grant NTR to Laos. The request was made in a letter to Representative William Thomas, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Representative Charles Rangel, ranking member of Ways and Means; Senator Charles Gassley, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; and Senator Max Baucus, ranking member of Finance.
The letter points out that Laos is the only Indochinese country with which the US has maintained unbroken ties in the aftermath of the Vietnam war but that it is the only remaining one of the three which lacks NTR status. USTR Zoellick and Secretary Powell praise Laos for its cooperation in accounting for POW/MIA’s, counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism in the wake of September 11, 2001. They also point out that granting NTR for Laos is integral to the President’s Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative, which seeks to build a network of bilateral free trade agreements with Southeast Asian nations.
(article in Indochina News)
In This Issue:
From the Editor
Cambodia, UN Agree to Set up Khmer Rouge Tribunal
Vietnam Mine/UXO Report Released
Vietnam Sets NGO Priorities
Regulations and Implementation of Foreign NGOs in Vietnam
NGO Profile: Village Focus International
Cambodia & Democratization
Opportunity to Serve as Cambodian Election Observer
The Laos-Iraq-Vietnam Connection
Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam Speak on Iraq
A Laotian Leader Returns
Letters on Lao NTR
The Congress and Cuba
Cuban Popular Religions
Subscriptions and Literature Orders
End of OFAC People-to-People Educational Licenses for Cuba
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury, which enforces a longstanding U.S. embargo against Cuba, said in March that it would no longer issue new licenses for “people-to-people educational exchanges.”
According to these recent revisions of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, OFAC will not grant licenses to educational programs that are “unrelated to academic coursework.” The licenses for people-to-people exchanges which have already been issued, however, will be honored.
Many organizations applying for people-to-people licenses, had trouble in the past receiving and renewing licenses, with OFAC often taking as much as half a year to respond to applications. By eliminating the category entirely, the adjusted regulations eliminate much of the ambiguous middle ground of applications that were ignored without being rejected, or were granted with increasingly cumbersome restrictions and reporting requirements. The new regulations will have a severe impact on many U.S. organizations that provide educational travel programs, and will significantly decrease the number of U.S. citizens who visit the island legally.
(article in Cuba News)
From the Editor... Iraq|
For the past three months I have spent 80% of my time reading, writing and organizing about the growing danger of war with Iraq and then in opposition to US bombing, invasion and occupation. Among other consequences has been the delayed publication of Interchange and serious inattention to FRD’s fundraising requirements and other work.
Frankly, it shocked me that the Bush administration could so blithely turn its back on a majority of the UN Security Council and launch a war that the Secretary General and most nations deemed to be illegal and unnecessary. The inspections process was moving forward with increasing effect and almost universal support. The only reason to go to war in March was that the administration had determined to do so months before. All else was smoke and mirrors and constantly changing rationalizations.
As I write, several things seem clear:
1) Win or lose militarily, the war is a political calamity. Regional and world anger and alienation against the US have grown to unprecedented levels with predictable grave impact on the war against terrorism. In the words of president Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, a longtime US ally, the war will have “horrible consequences... we will have 100 bin Ladens.”
2) Iraqi nationalist resistance to foreign invasion was far greater than Bush administration leaders anticipated.
3) Hundreds of civilians have been victims not only of misplaced bombs and missiles but also (in chilling flashbacks to Vietnam) of frightened and hostile US soldiers who cannot identify the enemy, as shown by a graphic article in the Times (of London) available at www.ffrd.org/terrorism-war (look for 3/31/03, War on the Ground).
4) The primary post-war issue is whether the administration insists on acting as an occupying power, or discovers the wisdom to quickly hand over authority for interim governance and reconstruction to the United Nations. The more visible and dominant American power is, the more unstable the situation, the faster the growth of nationalist resistance, and the greater the impeachment of US motives for invasion.
5) Those who depend only on the US media will have a very limited understanding of what is going on in and about Iraq An easy antidote: daily postings available from www.guardian.co.uk/thewrap
FRD is committed to continue its work with Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Cuba, but I fear that the situation in Iraq will not be possible for anyone to ignore who loves the US and who cares about the future of peace and decency in the world. (see related articles pp 13-15)
If you would like to receive far too regular postings from me about Iraq, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous postings can be found at www.ffrd.org/terrorism-war.
-John McAuliff, 4/8/03
Cultural Window and Vietnamese Studies
The Gioi (The World) Publishing House is offering subscriptions to Vietnam Cultural Window and Vietnam Studies. Payment can be made by credit card, bank transfer or check/money order. A complete catalogue of their other publications can be ordered by email email@example.com or by writting to Mrs. Pham Ngoc Oanh, Department of Marketing and Distributions, The Gioi Publishers, 46 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hanoi Vietnam Tel: 84-4-934-3196 or Fax: 84-4-826-9578.
Cultural Window: $53.00 a year for 12 month subscription to North America. An English language monthly published since April 1998. Each issue has an indepth cover story on a specific Vietnamese cultural topic as well as shorter articles on Vietnam culture. Cover stories have included: Vietnamese Water Puppets on the Rice Fields (1), In Praise of Pho (2), Youth: Growing up between Values (9), Bamboo: An Enduring Part of Vietnamese Life (16), Popular Music: On and off Stage (48), Vietnamese Cartoons (45). Vietnamese Studies: A quarterly in English or French. The first collection of the Volume 1-70 (1964 to 1982) is available on a CD-Rom for $20. A subscription for the current issues is $31.80 to North America. Each issue covers a particular topic in Vietnamese studies with a collection of studies, data and documents. Topics include: The Traditional Village of North Vietnam ( Issue 4, 2003), Taboos and Customs in Vietnam (Issue 1, 2001), Child Psychology I and II (Issue 3,4, 2000) Environmental Problems in Vietnam (Issue 3, 1998).
American Museum of Natural History Vietnam Exhibit
The exhibition Vietnam: Mind Body and Spirit is on display now at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and will be through January 2004. It will then move to Hanoi in 2005. A schedule of programs from now through May 2003 is available at www.amnh.org/programs/vietnam. Included are a variety of events, many free with museum admission.
In addition, cosponsored by the museum will be a performance of the Binh Phu Water Puppets on Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22 at 1:00, 3:30, and 6:00 p.m. at Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, no admission charge.
Hearts & Minds Released on DVD
Peter Davis’ landmark documentary Hearts and Minds (winner of the 1974 Academy Award for documentaries) addresses United States involvement in Vietnam. By using a wide variety of interviews, newsreels and documentary footage Davis shows the conflict at home and abroad highlighting the brutality and devastating consequence of war. Though parts are difficult to watch, recent viewers remark on parallels with the current conflict in Iraq, including scenes of presidents trying to justify the war.
Available from the Criterion Collection www.criterionco.com, and through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com, for about $40.
1st Vietnamese International Film Festival, October 2003
The Vietnamese-American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) and the VietNamese Language and Culture (VNLC) at UCLA present the first historic Vietnamese International Film Festival (ViFF). ViFF is the first film festival dedicated to filmmakers of the Vietnamese diaspora. The festival will be held over two consecutive weekends in October 2003. The Film & Video Center on the University of California, Irvine campus will host most of the screenings.
Fim and video submissions are being accepted from Vietnamese-diasporic filmmakers. There are no limits on when the film was made, content or submission fees. Narratives, documentaries, shorts, and music videos are all acceptable.
The deadline for entries is June 30, 2003. Send completed entry materials to: Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association c/o Vietnamese International Film Festival, 14781 Moran Street, Westminster, CA 92683, U.S.A. For more information, contact VietFilmFest.com, Tram Le, Program Director (626) 627-6826, Ysa Le, Public Relations Director (714) 914-2260.
Mirror of Khmer Civil Society
The Mirror is a publication of the NGO Open Forum of Cambodia. The Open Forum publishes the Mirror to help build a stronger civil society. The aim of this weekly publication is to make available to Cambodians and friends of Cambodia an overview of the major issues that are dominating the Khmer print media in Cambodia. The Mirror is available by email in English or Khmer for $50 a year internationally. Contact Norbert Klein, office no 245, suite 51, P.O. Box 177 Phnom Penh. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.forum.org.kh.
Rebirth of Buddhism in Cambodia
From July 3-30, this cultural field school will study Buddhism as history and as a daily lived religion in Cambodia. For more information, see www.nie.edu/fieldschool, or contact Northern Illinois University, Liberal Arts & Sciences External Programming, DeKalb, Illinois 60115, email@example.com.
New Cambodian Holocaust/ Genocide Museum
Judy Ledgerwood, Anthropology professor and Ann Wright-Parsons, Anthropology Museum director at Northern Illinois University have agreed to be consultants to the Cambodian Association of Illinois, as they prepare an NEH Grant for a Cambodian holocaust/genocide museum to be built in Chicago. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (815)753-8579 or the Cambodian Association of Illinois at (773)878-7090, email@example.com, www.cambodian-association.org.