Pathet Lao

From Academic Kids

Pathet Lao (Laotian, "Land of Laos") was a Communist, nationalist political movement and organization in Laos, formed in the mid-20th century. The group was ultimately successful in achieving paramount power in Laos, following a lengthy civil war or insurgent revolution lasting from the 1950s to 1975.

The Pathet Lao can be considered the Laotian equivalent of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Viet Minh and Viet Cong. The term eventually became the generic name for Laotian communists, much like "Viet Cong" in Vietnam. After they seized power in 1975, they renamed themselves the Lao People's Revolutionary Party.

Key figures of the Pathet Lao include Prince Souphanouvong, Kaysone Phomvihane, Phoumi Vongvichit, Nouhak Phoumsavanh and Khamtay Siphandone.


The organization under this name first appeared in 1950, adopted by Lao forces who joined the Viet Minh's revolt against the colonial French authorities in Indochina during the First Indochina War. Prince Souphanouvong founded the Pathet Lao in North Vietnam.

In 1953, Pathet Lao fighters accompanied an invasion of Laos from Vietnam led by Viet Minh forces; they established a government at Samneua in northern Laos. The communists began to make incursions into central Laos with the support of the Viet Minh, and a civil war erupted; the Pathet Lao quickly came to occupy substantial sections of the country.

The 1954 Geneva Conference agreements required the withdrawal of foreign forces, and allowed the Pathet Lao to establish itself as a regime in Laos's two northern provinces.

It was formed into an official party, the Lao Patriotic Front (Neo Lao Hak Sat) in 1956. Its goal was ostensibly to wage the communist struggle against colonialism and Western capitalist imperialism. A coalition was established in 1957 between the monarchy and communists, but it collapsed in 1959, bringing about a resumption of fighting.

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, the communist battled the U.S.-backed monarchial government of Laos. The Pathet Lao regime held numerous Americans as prisoners of war during and after the Vietnam war (1962-1973).

Shortly after the Paris Peace Accords ended U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war, the Pathet Lao and the government of Laos signed a cease-fire agreement, the Vientiane Treaty, in February, 1973.

The coalition government envisaged by the treaty did not long outlast it; as with the treaty itself, events in Laos emulated those in Vietnam. Shortly after the fall of the South Vietnamese government in April, 1975, the Pathet Lao took over Laos in November, 1975.

See also

External links

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