Although a decade of fighting between the Laos government and the Pathet Lao ended with last month's ceasefire, life has not changed for the Pathet Lao leader Prince Souphanouvong.
Although a decade of fighting between the Laos government and the Pathet Lao ended with last month's ceasefire, life has not changed for the Pathet Lao leader Prince Souphanouvong. He continues to work in a strongly-fortified cave complex in Sam Neua Province in Eastern Laos.
The Prince lives in a strange mixture of military and domestic surroundings. Though the cave complex has been reinforced with concrete against B-52 bomber strikes, flowers grow abundantly in the gardens outside and the Prince himself tends the animals kept there.
During the war years, the Sam Neua area has become the unofficial capital of the Pathet Lao. About 25,000 people live there, mostly in caves, though visitors from the outside -- and film of the area -- have been relatively rare.
SYNOPSIS: Despite the ceasefire in Laos, Prince Souphanouvong -- leader of the pro-communist Pathet Lao -- continues to live in a fortified cave complex in the East of the country. About twenty-five thousand of his supporters live in the ara, many of them in caves, and it is virtually the Pathet Lao capital Nevertheless, there are few foreign visitors and film of the Prince has been relatively rare.
The caves have been strengthened with concrete to withstand bombing by United States aircraft. Outside, there's whole range of recreational facilities where the prince and his supporters can relax.
In this strange mixture of military and domestic surroundings, the Prince waits while his side argues the political future of the country with the Laos government -- led by his half-brother Prince Souvanna Phouma. When the Laos ceasefire came into effect on February 22nd, divisions had already been noted on the government side. The ceasefire agreement angered the government's rightwing supporters, who felt too many concessions had been made to the Pathet Lao. This split can only strengthen the position of the Pathet Lao and of Prince Souphanouvong when they finally feel able to leave their mountain stronghold.