TOLD TO HAMPER TRUCE, VIET VILLAGERS SAY
Communist Cadres Use Nightly Persuasion
(November 21, 1972)
BY JACQUES LESLIE
Times Staff Writer
TAN AN, South Vietnam— While negotiations in foreign capitals suggest problems in reaching an accord, Communist cadres a few miles from Saigon are continuing to hold nighttime meetings telling villagers to prepare for an imminent cease-fire.
According to residents near this provincial capital 25 miles southwest of Saigon, the first meetings were held Oct. 15. Villagers were then told that a cease-fire was coming Oct. 31, but when nothing happened on that day, cadres said the date had been changed to some time in November.
The informants said cease-fire preparations were completed by Oct. 31 and were not affected by the change in date.
Villagers given extremely detailed instructions, the residents said. Among things called for were the organization of demonstrations against the South Vietnamese government, preparation of lists of people absent from their home villages, burial of heavy weapons and display of Viet Cong flags after the cease-fire.
The instructions generally appeared designed to accelerate ill feeling toward t he South Vietnamese government without violating the letter of the proposed cease-fire accord announced by Radio Hanoi. Oct. 26.
The details which the villagers gave of the meetings and their unusual openness in describing them suggest that once again in these areas there are now two administrations: the South Vietnamese government, which functions in the day time, and the Viet Cong, or the national Liberation Front, which appears at night. For the moment these two sides seem to be coexisting within a fabric of at least tacit mutual accommodations.
The informants said that more than a month ago Communist soldiers had received instructions to avoid all contact with South Vietnamese troops and to fight only when there was no alternative. But they said villagers were told to expect heavy fighting in the period after a cease-fire accord is signed and before it goes into effect.
They said Communist forces would then launch an “all-out attack” on South Vietnamese military headquarters, warehouses, gasoline, depots, airstrips and information centers.
Cadres based their statements on information from the Viet Cong district level, informants said.
The informants said that beginning Oct. 15 Viet Cong cadres told villagers to do the following:
— Families with sewing machines were to make sure the South Vietnamese government did not confiscate them, and all families were to have on hand more than three square feet of blue and red material to be made into Viet Cong flags.
— Groups were to be organized to rebuild and plant flowers around tombs of Viet Cong soldiers following the cease-fire.
— A delegation was to be chosen in each village and hamlet to visit Viet Cong prisoners being held in South Vietnamese prisons.
— After the cease-fire, war widows and families of dead soldiers are to be encouraged to hold demonstrations demanding that the government give them pensions and houses due them. If police throw grenades at the demonstrators, others should come to their support. Other people are to demand that taxes be lowered and that sons and husbands in South Vietnamese armed forces return home.
— Villagers were to begin campaigns to get government troops to desert and turn in their weapons to the Communists. Government soldiers were to be told that the war was almost over and that they could stop fighting.
— People in each village and hamlet were told to make contacts with families of Communist soldiers who had rallied to the government side. Villagers were told that while some had rallied for ideological reasons, others did so simply out of fear and were still sympathetic to the Communist cause.
— People were to be chose to be responsible for burying heavy weapons. Once the cease-fire is announced, guerrillas are to use only small arms.
Asked whether Communist plans included assassination of local government officials, one resident said, “No, that is government propaganda.” No other mention of assassinations was made.
The informants said that when villagers asked why there was no cease-fire Oct. 31, cadres told them, “The deceitful Americans have tried to delay the agreement, but they cannot betray the peace-loving people of the United States and Vietnam. T his plot of the American leaders will be crushed soon, because if there is no cease-fire, we will go on fighting, and 17 million people in South Vietnam cannot defeat 19 million in North Vietnam and 800 million in China.”