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August 13, 1971 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1971-08-13

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Page Six

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Friday, August 13, 1971

Page Six THE MICHIGAN DAILY Friday, August 13, 1971

LahotSoonight10 p.m.i

U.S. OFFICERS UNPERTURBED
S. Viets expropriate pot

By JOHN EVERINGHAM
and ROBERT FLORES
Dispatch News Service International
SAIGON - While the U.S.
military command in Vietnam
has fought its soldiers' grow-
ing drug problem with well pub-
licized urine tests, arrests and
amnesty programs, U.S. advised
South Vietnamese reap the
marijuana crop under the guise
COLOR of drug crackdowns.
Fields of marijuana, waving
branches 7 feet high, grow
just across the Cambodian
border. Recently these reporters
watched a South Vietnamese
Police unit march unchallenged
AUD. A, ANGELL past the shattered frontier
umm .lmea, nell market into a Cambodian pea-
Summer Film Festival/orson welles sant's marijuana farm-
We're making it new
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Armed with M-16's and ma-
chetes the Vietnamese National
Police Field Force swung into
action. The Khmer farmer wat-
ched despairingly as his mari-
juana crop was swiftly felled
by two dozen police knives.
Commanded by the police, the
peasant tied his plants into
hefty bundles. The Vietnamese
then hauled his crop away.
Melons grew between the care-
fully aligned plants in the mari-
juana garden of the next farm-
er. Buds were forming on the
lush plants. but the small yellow
flowers, famed amongst pot
smokers for their superior pro-
perties, had not yet blossomed.
Machetes of the 24 Vietnamese
police quickly reduced the plants
to stumps, leaving the melons
bare. Sampans waiting on the
Mekong River were then loaded
with the bundles of 'grass'.
This 'grass cutting' raid be-
gan in Tan Chau, Viet N a m.
The District Chief, the district's
ranking military officer, led the
operation. The American Di s -
trict Senior Advisor, a US army
major, and a US navy captain
were there also, though the
'Meo', as the Vietnamese police
were derogatorily calling t h e
Americans, did little during the
raid but watch.
Two dozen Popular Forces
(PF or Ruff-Puff) soldiers act-
ing as military guard, two dozen
National Police Field Force
serving as cutters, and the
officers were carried in the ear-
ly morning darkness 6 miles up
the Mekong River by two po-
lice river patrol boats. The
Cambodian frontier was just a
few paces from Vinh Xuong vil-
lige where all were put ashore.
The US major and navy cap-
tain waited in Viet Nam des-
pite invitations from the Viet-
namese to cross the border into
Cambodia.
Since Communist Cambodians

and the NFL control almost all
territory across the frontier,
the Vietnamese PF troops fan-
ned out into Cambodia forming
a defensive perimeter around
the area to be cut.
"We can't go there," said a
guard pointing to a field of
marijuana 200 yards from t h e
river bank. "We fear mines left
by the Viet Cong." Much more
marijuana grew there, safe from
the police machetes.
Marijuana is a traditional
cash crop in Cambodia. It is
legal, and freely sold in all mar-
kets. It can be purchased by
the kilogramme, bunch of dried
blossoms, or in cigarettes. On
the streets of Phnom Penh,
Cambodia's capitol, 1 US cent
will purchase 12 ready rolled
joints.
While few Cambodians smoke
marijuana regularly, it is
widely used in cooking the local
food. Soup made from a chick-
en stuffed full of "guncha", as
Khmers call marijuana, is fam-
ous throughout the country, and'
available on request in restaur-
ants everywhere.
Moving from one farrh to the
next, the Vietnamese police sys-
tematically destroyed e v e r y
marijuana garden in their path.
"Tell those men to stop catch-
ing frogs and get back to car-
rying bundles to the river,"
yelled the supervising officer at
districted cutters thinking of
their stomachs.
The late morning sun had
made cutting hard work. About
10 Vietnamese took over a
Cambodian house and made
themselves comfortable. The
farmer, his wife, daughters,
and the grandfather were or-
dered outside to cut their own
plot of 'grass'. Later, they had
to carry it to the Vietnamese
boats on the river.
The Cambodians cursed t h e
Vietnamese as they cut their

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THE "A CHILD'S
BUTTERFIELD GARDEN
BLUES BAND- OF GRASS"
"Sometimes I Just Feel A Pre-Legalization
Like Smilin' " Comedy
3 59359

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own crop while the soldiers and
police helped themselves to the
peasant's tea. Nearby m o r e
Vietnamese stripped ripe fruit
from the trees and slept in
the shade.
Upon hearing that one of us
spoke Cambodian, a peasant
complained, "How can the Viet-
namese do this? Now we won't
make enough money to buy
food to eat with our rice"
When we asked if he was be-
ing paid for his grass the farm-
er spit angrily. "Nothing!" he
replied. "We must cut this for
our own safety."
Under the heat of the mid-
day sun, a small group of po-
licemen dried out budding mari-
juana shoots to smoke. They
smiled and offered us some.
Another marched back into Viet
Nam dragging an entire 7 foot
plant.
"We cut many more than 10,-
000 plants, but we'll just say
10,000," the District Chief said,
looking to the American advisor
for approval. The US major
agreed. The Vietnamese police
would be paid 10,000 piastres
bounty, a piastre a plant, by the
US government for the mari-
juana destruction. 10,000 pias-
tres is only about $35 US.
The police officers insisted
all the rest would be burped.
Some lower ranking policemen
were not so sure. One policeman
joked that they could sell it
for only 300 piastres a kilo-
gramme.
In Saigon, when informed
how the Vietnamese police had
stormed the Cambodian farms,
shipped the marijuana back to
Viet Nam and collected a boun-
ty from the US government, the
First Secretary of the Cam-
bodian Embassy, Son Sone, re-
acted with anger. "No, no, they
have no right to cut Cambod-
ian guncha!" he fumed. "It's
the same if Khmers came to
Viet Nam to cut Vietnamese
crops." He then told us of the
wonderful marijuana-chicken
soup they make back home in
Cambodia, explaining with a
smile full of pleasant memories,
"It's our custom."
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