The National Front for Southern Viet Nam Liberation and the revolutionary victory


Mr. Nguyen Huu Tho, chairman of the National Front for Southern Viet Nam Liberation, at a meeting in 1962 (File photo)

The Geneva Agreement signed on July 20, 1954 between Viet Nam and France said France would withdraw its troops out of Viet Nam and a national election would be organized in July 1956 to unify the country.

Historical situation

In September 1945, President Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of Viet Nam. Knowing that the country would take a communist development direction, the U.S. assisted France in re-invading Viet Nam, but France failed. Northern Viet Nam was totally independent while the south was not. After Mandes became the French Prime Minister in June 1954, the U.S. asked France to force Viet Nam’s King Bao Dai to replace Prime Minister Buu Loc with Ngo Dinh Diem in July 1954. Diem was a pro-American person who had earlier studied in the U.S. In 1955, the U.S. made up a referendum to oust Bao Dai from the political field and promoted Diem to the president of the U.S.-backed Saigon government.

American representatives also took part in the Geneva meeting but did not sign the joint statement to avoid international legal bindings. The U.S. polished Diem as a patriot who was seeking to get rid of France and pro-feudal Bao Dai, and who was supporting nationalism to combat communism. The U.S. and Diem blended Catholicism with Confucianism. Diem set up his “Can Lao” party to combat the communists. The U.S. supported Diem in this combat and provided so-called South Viet Nam with lots of aids in the hope of making the south a manifestation U.S.-styled richness and freedom in Indochina.

The period from July 1954 to late 1956 saw many political struggles by southern people who wanted a national election subject to the Geneva Agreement. As of 1957, the U.S. and the Saigon regime sought to put an end to the struggles. The regime tried many ways to separate revolutionary warriors from their public support, moving the public to separate areas, putting the communists out of the law’s protection, and treating patriots as communists and beheaded them in all parts of the south. Therefore, much of the communist forces was damaged. The survivors had to flee to remote areas or protect themselves through armed groups, starting a widespread resistance war afterwards.

The Front in Action

A metting between the Front and the coalition of people’s forces for democracy and peace of Viet Nam in 1969 (File photo)

After the Communist Party issued Decree 15, many uprisings took place in the south and destroyed local governments in some places, thus expanding liberated areas in rural and mountainous regions. The anti-U.S. movement also developed strongly in towns and cities.

In this situation, the National Front for Southern Viet Nam Liberation came into being on December 20, 1960, led by lawyer and patriot Nguyen Huu Tho. The Front announced its 10-point charter:

1- Overthrowing Diem administration and the American colonial governance to set up a national and democratic coalition government.
2- Practicing widespread and progressive democracy.
3- Building an independent and self-controlled economy, improving the public life security.
4- Cutting taxes on farmland, ensuring that all farmers have land for cultivation.
5- Building a national democratic culture and education for people and democracy.
6- Building the army to protect the country and people.
7- Realizing equality for the peoples and genders, protecting legitimate rights of foreigners and overseas Vietnamese.
8- Carrying out neutral policies for peace.
9- Normalizing relations between the north and south of Viet Nam for the re-unification of the country.
10-  Fighting against an invasion war and protecting the world’s peace.

The Front’s flag had a yellow star on the blue and red background. It also had its own song titled Giai phong mien Nam (Liberating the South), its own news agency, radio and newspaper, together with its liberation organs and armed forces.

On April 20, 1968, the Front aligned with the coalition of people’s forces for democracy and peace of Viet Nam, whose chairman was lawyer Trinh Dinh Thao.

The Front played a significant role in the country’s revolutionary process. First of all, it grouped patriots who wanted to liberate the south.

Secondly, the Front called on the grassroots to fight against the U.S. invasion and the U.S.-backed Saigon government. A great number of people took side of the Front because many people held its leaders in high esteem.

Thirdly, the Front could function as a State administrative agency and united liberated areas in the south to form a huge basis for the revolutionary process.

Fourthly, in the international arena, the Front represented South Viet Nam’s revolution movement and succeeded in gathering support from the international community.

Fifthly, the Front, with its “Republic Government of South Viet Nam” became an indispensable party in the international peace negotiations in Paris that the U.S. could not help admitting.

Sixthly, the Front led the south’s people in the uprisings in the spring of 1975 as part of the Ho Chi Minh Operation in April 1975, resulting in the operation’s victory and the country’s re-unification.

Seventhly, with the Front’s flag, the Communist Party succeeded in the revolution in the south. The Party was able to make the most of solidarity of the Vietnamese people in this victory over the U.S. invaders. Facing the Front’s flag, there was no point for the U.S. and the Saigon government to say that the north invaded the south or to negate that the flag was the revolutionary flag southern people. As for the south, the flag was another form of the Vietnamese red flag with a yellow star, the flag of the August Revolution led by the Communist Party and Uncle Ho in 1945.

The Front operated in 15 years from 1960 to 1975 and was greatly instrumental to the victory of the revolutionary movement.

By Tran Trong Tan, translated by Tuong Thuy

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