02.jpg

Historical Dictionary

tags

KAISÔN PHOMVIHĀN (NGUYỄN QUỐC TRỊ, ANH BẢY, 1920–2002)

The most powerful Lao communist by the end of the Indochina War as well as communist Vietnam’s most trusted ally. The son of a Vietnamese civil servant and a Lao mother, Kaisôn spoke Vietnamese nearly as fluently as his native Lao. Born in Savannakhet province, he pursued his secondary studies at the Lycée du Protectorat in Hanoi during the 1930s and stayed on during World War II, when he may have enrolled at the Faculté de droit in Hanoi under the name of Nguyen Quoc Tri (Nguyen of a National Mind).

Like so many Vietnamese at the time, he became active in nationalist politics during the Popular Front and Vichy periods. He joined the Lao Issara in Savannakhet when French Indochina crumbled in mid-1945, serving in the National Salvation Association of Lao Youth and then in Prince Suphānuvong’s Committee for an Independent Laos. In late 1945, he returned to Hanoi with a group of Lao recruits for training in Vietnam. In early 1946, Ho Chi Minh called upon him to join a secret Lao-Viet Contact Liaison Group (Ban Cong Tac Lao-Viet). It marked the beginning of a long and close partnership with Vietnamese communists.

When full-scale war broke out on 19 December 1946, he followed the central government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam into the northern hills of Vietnam. There he worked in political propaganda teams active along the Lao border. In February 1948, the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) created the Northern Lao Assault Team (Doi Xung Phong Lao Bac) to conduct political propaganda, create local armed forces and expand the revolution into northern Laos. Kaisôn was the team’s Lao leader. In early 1949, thanks to this propaganda work and due to the personal support of Vo Nguyen Giap, Song Hao, and Le Tan Trong, the northern Lao assault team was transformed into the Lao revolutionary army known as Latsavong. Kaisôn sealed his revolutionary credentials in July 1949, when he officially joined the ICP. In mid-1950, he entered the Lao Resistance Government as National Defense minister and commander-in-chief of the army. He was also elected to the central committee of the newly formed national front. In February 1951, he attended the ICP’s Second Party Congress in northern Vietnam as chief of the party’s Lao Regional Committee (Xu Uy Lao).

Given the decision at that congress to reorganize the ICP into three national parties, the Vietnamese assigned him the task of forming a separate but associated Lao Communist Party. Kaisôn became the most important Lao communist from this point and communist Vietnam’s most valuable ally in running revolutionary Laos. Vietnamese communists referred to him as Anh Bay or Brother number seven. See also ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE FOR THE FRONTIER; ADVISORY GROUP 100; CAMBODIAN RESISTANCE GOVERNMENT; COMMITTEE FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS; COMMITTEE FOR THE EAST, LAO ISSARA; HOANG VAN HOAN; INDOCHINESE FEDERATION; LAO RESISTANCE GOVERNMENT; MÉTIS; NGUYEN KHANG; NGUYEN THANH SON; NUHAK PHUMSAVAN; PARTY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE.