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LAOS | ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE

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    A girl on inline skates glides past a communist poster showing the image of the first communist leader of Laos, Kaysone Phomvihane, in Vientiane.
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    A yellow Hummer pulls out of the King's Roman Casino in Tonpheung, inside the Golden Triangle Chinese Special Economic Zone.
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    A woman stands on a balcony of a building constructed by Soviet architects in 1985 in Vientiane.
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    Women sit inside a bar in Vientiane.
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    A man sorts scavenged bottles for recycling in front of the building of the Laos Securities Exchange in Vientiane.
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    A boy stands near a television in his home inside an apartment building constructed by Soviet architects in 1985 in Vientiane.
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    A row of unexploded bombs dropped by the U.S. military during the Secret War in the 1960s and 70s serves as decoration for a restaurant.
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    A statue of three communist revolutionaries is seen in Vieng Xai. A bomb painted with the letters USA rests under the foot of the figure on the left.
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    Ethnic Hmong, relatives of C.I.A. Secret War veterans, walk through the jungle in the Vientiane province of Laos.
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    Relatives of veterans of the C.I.A. Secret War break down in tears and beg for help after seeing the first westerners in over 30 years.
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    Relatives of veterans of the C.I.A.'s Secret War break down in tears at their hidden village in Vientiane Province.
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    Children huddle around an ethnic Hmong and a veteran of the C.I.A.'s Secret War, as he holds an AK-47 assault rifle while sitting near a fire in camp in the Vientiane Province of Laos.
Laos | Enemies of the People

Few countries attract less attention than Laos, and fewer still are as deft at repelling scrutiny. Over the years, the landlocked nation evolved into a perfect repository for secrets. Laos was the site of the CIA’s largest paramilitary operation and the most extensive clandestine bombing campaign in history. The U.S. was defeated and Communists took power in 1975, but the tradition of secrecy held firm. Even today, grave incidents which would provoke outrage elsewhere – persecution, abuse, corruption, starvation – are easily shrugged off or quietly ignored. A potent blend of Leninist political theory and shady business practices keep the Communists firmly in power. Despite the end of the Cold War, the government of Laos continues to relentlessly hunt and kill ethnic Hmong people who collaborated with the U.S. more than three decades ago.

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