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Cablegate: Organizing the Masses: Women and Youth

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

280957Z Oct 02

2002HANOI02598 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ9033

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DOEE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 ED-01 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01
NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OMB-01 OPIC-01 CAEX-01 PA-00 PER-00
PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00 IRM-00 TEST-00
TRSE-00 USIE-00 ECA-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02
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------------------FF1EAD 281014Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7937
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 002598

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINS SOCI VM TIP
SUBJECT: ORGANIZING THE MASSES: WOMEN AND YOUTH

REF: A. 01 HANOI 2402 B. HANOI 1199

1. (U) SUMMARY. VIETNAMESE "MASS ORGANIZATIONS" FOR WOMEN
AND YOUNG PEOPLE ARE INCREASINGLY CHANGING THEIR FOCUS AWAY
FROM BEING ONE-WAY COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA TOOLS TO BECOMING
MORE DYNAMIC INSTITUTIONS REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF
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PAGE 02 HANOI 02598 01 OF 03 281014Z
THOSE POPULATIONS AND ENGAGING IN IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTAL
WORK, OFTEN WITH OUTSIDE DONOR ASSISTANCE. THEIR CONTINUED
EXISTENCE DEMONSTRATES BOTH THE COMMUNIST PARTY'S COMPULSION
TO MONITOR AND CONTROL THE PEOPLE OF VIETNAM AND, MORE
INTERESTINGLY, INSTITUTIONAL RESILIENCE IN ADAPTING TO NEW
REALITIES. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF THE VIETNAM FATHERLAND FRONT
(VFF), THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF VIETNAM (CPV) HAS A NETWORK OF
ABOUT 30 "MASS ORGANIZATIONS" THAT RUN FROM THE NATIONAL
LEVEL DOWN TO VIRTUALLY EACH VILLAGE THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY
(REF A). VETERANS, FARMERS, SENIOR CITIZENS, LABORERS, ETC.
ALL HAVE THEIR OWN ORGANIZATIONS, WHICH SERVE NOT ONLY TO
CONVEY CPV POLICY DOWNWARD BUT ALSO IN PRINCIPLE TO PROTECT
THE RIGHTS AND INTERESTS OF THOSE GROUPS AND GIVE THOSE
POPULATIONS AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHANNEL THEIR CONCERNS
UPWARDS. THESE ORGANIZATIONS ALSO PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE
IN THE SELECTION OF CANDIDATES FOR THE 2002 NATIONAL
ASSEMBLY ELECTION (REF B).

BIG NUMBERS
-----------

3. (U) WITH WOMEN REPRESENTING 52% OF THE TOTAL POPULATION
AND PEOPLE UNDER 25 ALSO MORE THAN HALF OF THE TOTAL
POPULATION, THE VIETNAM WOMEN'S UNION (VWU) AND VIETNAM
YOUTH FEDERATION (VYF) REPRESENT TWO "POWERHOUSE" MASS
ORGANIZATIONS. ACCORDING TO VICE PRESIDENT NGUYEN PHUONG
MINH, TOTAL VWU MEMBERSHIP IS 11 MILLION WOMEN. (BY
CONTRAST, TOTAL CPV MEMBERSHIP IS UNDER 3 MILLION.) (NOTE:
EXCLUDING GIRLS UNDER 18 --THE AGE AT WHICH WOMEN CAN JOIN -
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PAGE 03 HANOI 02598 01 OF 03 281014Z
- THIS WOULD MEAN THAT ALMOST HALF OF ALL ELIGIBLE WOMEN ARE
AT LEAST NOMINAL VWU MEMBERS. END NOTE) MEMBERSHIP FEES
ARE NOMINAL -- ABOUT 500 DONG (3 US CENTS) A MONTH.
SUBSCRIPTION TO THE WEEKLY "VIETNAMESE WOMEN'S NEWSPAPER" IS
AN ADDITIONAL 80,000 DONG (UNDER US $6) PER YEAR. THERE IS
ALSO A GLOSSY "WOMEN OF VIETNAM IN REVIEW" MAGAZINE IN
ENGLISH. (MS. MINH IS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF BOTH
PUBLICATIONS.)

4. (U) WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE VYFU -- WHICH INCLUDES
THE HO CHI MINH COMMUNIST YOUTH UNION, THE YOUTH PIONEERS,
THE VIETNAM ASSOCIATION OF STUDENTS, AND, MOST RECENTLY, THE
VIETNAMESE COUNCIL OF YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS -- ARE A TOTAL OF
9 MILLION MEMBERS, VYF VICE PRESIDENT TRAN DAC LOI TOLD
POL/C. THEIR AGES RANGE FROM 9 (WHEN THEY MAY JOIN THE
PIONEERS; VIRTUALLY 100 PCT OF STUDENTS DO) TO ABOUT 35,
WHEN THEY MUST STEP DOWN FROM VYF POSITIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS.
THE 4 MILLION MEMBER-STRONG HO CHI MINH COMMUNIST YOUTH
UNION IS USUALLY SEEN AS THE TESTING GROUND FOR WOULD-BE CPV
MEMBERS; 67,926 YOUTH UNION MEMBERS JOINED THE CPV IN 2001,
COMPARED TO ONLY 46,000 IN 1996, ACCORDING TO THE OFFICIAL
MEDIA. MEMBERSHIP IN THE HCM YOUTH UNION IS BY WRITTEN
APPLICATION ONLY, ALONG WITH RECOMMENDATION BY A CURRENT
MEMBER.

WOMEN BRANCHING OUT
-------------------

5. (U) BEFORE THE "DOI MOI" ERA BEGAN IN 1986, THE VWU WAS
PRIMARILY A MOUTHPIECE TO EXPLAIN CPV DECISIONS AND
PROPAGANDA LINES TO WOMEN, MS. MINH ADMITTED. SINCE THEN,
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PAGE 04 HANOI 02598 01 OF 03 281014Z
HOWEVER, VWU HAS ALSO MOVED TO UNDERTAKE A VARIETY OF MORE
ACTIVIST PROGRAMS, SHE CLAIMED. FOR EXAMPLE, BEGINNING IN
1997, THE VWU HAS JOINED WITH THE GVN IN ADDRESSING
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS. UNDER THE GVN'S ACTION PLAN FOR
TRAFFICKING PREVENTION, THE VWU HAS USED ITS WIDESPREAD
COMMUNITY PRESENCE TO RAISE AWARENESS OF TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS AND TO HELP IMPLEMENT PROGRAMS TO REDUCE THE
SUSCEPTIBILITY OF VULNERABLE GROUPS TO TRAFFICKING, AS WELL
AS TO COOPERATE WITH GVN AGENCIES IN ASSISTING VICTIMS AND
IN INVESTIGATING AND PROSECUTING TRAFFICKERS. MS. MINH
NOTED VWU RECEIVES SOME FOREIGN NGO FUNDING; ONE PROJECT IN
QUANG NINH PROVINCE PROVIDES HOUSING AND EMPLOYMENT FOR
WOMEN WHO HAVE RETURNED AFTER HAVING BEEN TRAFFICKED AND/OR
TRICKED INTO FAKE MARRIAGES IN NEIGHBORING CHINA. (THE USG,
WORKING THROUGH THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION
AND THE ASIA FOUNDATION, WILL ALSO BE PROVIDING FUNDING FOR
TRAFFICKING PROJECTS IMPLEMENTED BY PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL
WOMEN'S UNIONS.)

6. (U) POVERTY REDUCTION IS ANOTHER KEY TARGET FOR VWU,
GIVEN THE HIGH PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN WHO LIVE IN POVERTY,
ACCORDING TO MS. MINH. VWU -- THROUGH ITS LOCAL CHAPTERS --
OFFERS MODEST CAPITAL FUNDS AS WELL AS SAVINGS PROGRAMS TO
ENCOURAGE RURAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP, SHE EXPLAINED. HEALTH IS
ANOTHER PRIORITY; VWU COOPERATES WITH THE MINISTRY OF PUBLIC

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ9034

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ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DINT-00 DODE-00
DOEE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 ED-01 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01
NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OMB-01 OPIC-01 CAEX-01 PA-00 PER-00
PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00 IRM-00 TEST-00
TRSE-00 USIE-00 ECA-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02
G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /009W
------------------FF1EBC 281014Z /38
R 280957Z OCT 02
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7938
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 03 HANOI 002598

SIPDIS


HEALTH IN ORGANIZING CAMPAIGNS PRIMARILY ABOUT FAMILY HEALTH
(I.E., INOCULATIONS) AS WELL AS FAMILY PLANNING. MS. MINH
SAID THAT VWU "MOTIVATORS" SPREAD THE WORD -- AS WELL AS
WRITTEN MATERIALS -- ABOUT THE LATTER, AND CLAIMED THAT "IN
URBAN AREAS, THIS IS NO LONGER A PROBLEM." SHE ADMITTED
THAT CONSIDERABLE CHALLENGES REMAINED IN THE COUNTRYSIDE TO
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PAGE 02 HANOI 02598 02 OF 03 281014Z
CONVINCE FARMERS TO LIMIT THEIR FAMILY SIZE TO TWO CHILDREN.
AS A SPECIAL "INCENTIVE," SHE ADDED, VWU HAS A NETWORK OF
"CLUBS" FOR FAMILIES WHO HAVE LESS THAN THREE CHILDREN. AN
EVEN NEWER INTEREST FOR VWU IS PROTECTION OF THE
ENVIRONMENT, MS. MINH DESCRIBED, BUT ADMITTED THAT ITS
ACTIVITIES IN THIS AREA WERE STILL NASCENT.

7. (U) THE VWU IS ALSO EXPANDING INTERNATIONALLY, WITH
RELATIONS WITH 880 ORGANIZATIONS IN 66 COUNTRIES AROUND THE
WORLD, MS. MINH BOASTED. THE VWU ASSISTS IN RECEIVING
"HUNDREDS" OF WOMEN'S DELEGATIONS EACH YEAR, SHE ADDED.
WITH MODEST FUNDING (ABOUT USD 8,000 EACH) FROM THE NEW
ZEALAND GOVERNMENT, VWU RUNS INCOME GENERATION PROJECTS IN
HAI DUONG PROVINCE (POTTERY) AND HUNG YEN PROVINCE (MUSHROOM
CULTIVATION). SWEDEN'S SIDA HAS GIVEN VWU USD 450,000 FOR A
PROJECT ON "ENHANCING GENDER EQUALITY AND ECONOMIC POWER FOR
WOMEN," INCLUDING A FOCUS ON IMPROVING VWU'S ADMINISTRATIVE
CAPACITY AT THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL.

PROMOTING YOUNG TALENT -- AND GETTING INTO BUSINESS
--------------------------------------------- ------

8. (U) VYF'S LOI DESCRIBED ITS MAIN OBJECTIVES AS
PROMOTING THE INTERESTS OF THE YOUTH OF VIETNAM, EDUCATING
THEM ON "POSITIVE, PRO-ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP," MOBILIZING YOUTH
IN POLITICAL, SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, AND DEVELOPMENTAL
ACTIVITIES, AND CONTRIBUTING TO THE "DEFENSE OF THE
HOMELAND." LOI NOTED THAT THE VYF -- WHICH, LIKE THE VWU,
OPERATES AT THE NATIONAL, PROVINCIAL, DISTRICT, AND VILLAGE
LEVEL -- ENCOURAGES EDUCATION BOTH IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL, AND
PROVIDES SOME SCHOLARSHIPS FOR ESPECIALLY POOR YOUNG PEOPLE.
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PAGE 03 HANOI 02598 02 OF 03 281014Z
THE VYF ATTEMPTS TO RECOGNIZE "YOUNG TALENT" BY OFFERING
AWARDS AND ASSISTANCE IN FINDING JOBS, HE EXPLAINED. AS A
COMPLEMENT TO REGULAR CLASSROOM EDUCATION, VYF ACTIVITIES
INCLUDE LITERACY PROGRAMS, LIFE-LONG LEARNING MODELS, AND
VOCATIONAL SKILLS TRAINING, HE ADDED.

9. (U) A GROWING PRIORITY FOR VYF OVER THE PAST DECADE HAS
BEEN PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR SELF-EMPLOYMENT BY SCHOOL
LEAVERS, INCLUDING SMALL-SCALE CAPITAL LOANS AND KNOWLEDGE
TRANSFERS. (NOTE: THIS IS A CLEAR RECOGNITION THAT THE
PRIVATE SECTOR WILL NEED TO CREATE VIRTUALLY ALL OF THE NEW
JOBS NECESSARY FOR THE GROWING WORKFORCE OVER THE COMING
DECADE AS WELL. END NOTE) THE FOUNDING OF THE COUNCIL OF
YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS -- NOW WITH 1,650 MEMBERS -- UNDER THE
VYF IN 2002 WAS A SIGNAL OF THE GROWING IMPORTANCE OF THIS
SECTOR. IT NOW OPERATES IN 30 CITIES AND PROVINCES; LOI
CLAIMED THAT THE "COLLECTIVE VALUE" OF THE PRODUCTS OF THESE
ENTERPRISES WAS USD 4 BILLION. VICE CHAIRMAN PHUONG HUU
VIET OF THE COUNCIL, WHO IS ALSO A NEW DELEGATE TO THE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, SEPARATELY TOLD POL/C THAT THESE
ENTERPRISES RUN THE GAMUT FROM BICYCLE REPAIR BOOTHS TO BEER
HALLS TO INVESTMENT BROKERAGES (LIKE HIS OWN).

10. (U) APART FROM ENCOURAGING THESE ENTREPRENEURS, THE
VYF ALSO RUNS A YOUTH VOLUNTEER PROGRAM, LOI ADDED. MORE
THAN 3 MILLION YOUTHS TOOK PART IN ACTIVITIES UNDER THIS
PROGRAM DURING THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS IN 2002, HE CLAIMED,
INCLUDING EFFORTS AIMED AT POVERTY ALLEVIATION, ILLITERACY
ERADICATION, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, BLOOD DONATIONS, AND
HELP FOR NATURAL DISASTER VICTIMS. HE ALSO NOTED THAT THIS
PROGRAM ALSO HIRES YOUNGSTERS TO TAKE PART IN RE-BUILDING OF
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PAGE 04 HANOI 02598 02 OF 03 281014Z
"MONKEY BRIDGES" IN THE MEKONG RIVER DELTA AND IN ENGAGING
IN NATIONAL ROAD CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS, INCLUDING THE NEW
NATIONAL HO CHI MINH HIGHWAY. HE STRESSED THAT THE LATTER
ACTIVITIES WERE INDEED PAID LABOR, NOT VOLUNTARY OR
INVOLUNTARY SERVICE.

11. (U) VYF IS ALSO ENGAGED IN A VARIETY OF HEALTH
PROJECTS, RANGING FROM COMBATING DRUG ABUSE, EDUCATING ABOUT
HIV/AIDS, FAMILY PLANNING, AND ENCOURAGING PHYSICAL FITNESS,
ACCORDING TO LOI. THE VYF RUNS A NETWORK OF "YOUTH PALACES"
(MANY OF WHICH SEEM TO HAVE BEEN LEASED OUT TO DISCOS AND
KARAOKES), AS WELL AS TWO PUBLISHING HOUSES, "THANH NIEN"
(YOUTH) NEWSPAPER, YOUTH RADIO, YOUTH TV PROGRAMS, AND YOUTH
INSTITUTES (FOR RESEARCH AND TRAINING) IN HANOI AND HO CHI
MINH CITY. THEIR REVENUES HELP SUSTAIN THE VYF, ALTHOUGH
LOI ADMITTED THAT THE BIGGEST CHUNK OF ITS BUDGET COMES FROM
THE STATE.

COMMENT: A CHANGING ROLE IN CHANGING TIMES
-------------------------------------------

12. (U) VIRTUALLY EVERY CITIZEN OF VIETNAM IS ELIGIBLE FOR
MEMBERSHIP IN ONE OR ANOTHER OF THE MANY MASS ORGANIZATIONS
UNDER THE VFF. IN EARLIER TIMES, PARTICIPATION AND
ATTENDANCE WAS MORE-OR-LESS COMPULSORY, AS THE CPV CHANNELED

UNCLASSIFIED

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ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DINT-00 DODE-00
DOEE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 ED-01 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01
NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OMB-01 OPIC-01 CAEX-01 PA-00 PER-00
PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00 IRM-00 TEST-00
TRSE-00 USIE-00 ECA-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02
G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /009W
------------------FF1EBF 281014Z /38
R 280957Z OCT 02
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7939
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE

UNCLAS SECTION 03 OF 03 HANOI 002598

SIPDIS

ITS MESSAGE AND PRIORITIES THROUGH THE LEADERSHIP OF THESE
ORGANS AT THE FOUR MAJOR LEVELS DOWN TO THE COUNTRYSIDE. IN
TODAY'S FREER SOCIETY, WITH MORE CHOICES ABOUT LEISURE
ACTIVITIES AND MORE IMPERATIVES TO WORK FOR A LIVING RATHER
THAN DEPEND ON EMPLOYMENT IN THE STATE SECTOR, FEWER PEOPLE
ARE LIKELY INTERESTED IN OR ABLE TO SUSTAIN ACTIVE
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PAGE 02 HANOI 02598 03 OF 03 281014Z
MEMBERSHIP. BUT THE ORGANIZATIONS LIVE ON, IN PART AS A
LEGACY OF THE CPV'S OVERSIGHT OF THE "MASSES," AS WELL AS
OCCASIONALLY STILL VOICING THE CPV'S PROPAGANDA LINE, SUCH
AS IN THE NUMEROUS RALLIES AGAINST THE DRAFT VIETNAM HUMAN
RIGHTS ACT IN THE US CONGRESS IN 2001, OR MORE RECENTLY,
PROTESTS AGAINST POSSIBLE US MILITARY ACTIONS AGAINST IRAQ.
(THE VWU'S MINH EXPLAINED THE LATTER AS SOMETHING HAVING
DIRECT IMPACT ON WOMEN, HENCE THE VWU'S "NEED" TO PROTEST.)
MORE INTERESTINGLY, HOWEVER, THESE ORGANIZATIONS HAVE
ADAPTED TO THE CHANGING REALITIES OF POST-"DOI MOI" VIETNAM,
INCREASINGLY FOCUSING ON HANDS-ON DEVELOPMENTAL EFFORTS AND
RAISING THEIR OWN FUNDING FROM INTERNATIONAL DONORS AND/OR
THEIR OWN ENTERPRISES. THE INSTITUTIONAL RESILIENCE OF
THESE ORGANS, PLUS THEIR LONG-STANDING NETWORK OF NATIONWIDE
OFFICES, GUARANTEE A CONTINUED IF CHANGING ROLE BOTH FOR THE
VWU AND THE VYF IN THE COMING DECADE.
BURGHARDT

UNCLASSIFIED

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