On July 19, 1949, France formally grants Laos independence. For almost three decades, from 1949 to 1975, the political situation in Laos is highly confusing. Three factions struggle for power: 1. Conservatives, commanding, among other forces, a 30,000-men army of the Hmong (Meo) hill tribe; 2. Neutralists, organized by Prince Souvanna Phouma; 3. Communists, lead by a feudal prince, Souphanouvang (a contradiction Marx had not anticipated).

The civil war among the three rival factions is, however, not fought as fiercely as the civil wars in Vietnam or Cambodia. Several times in three decades coalition governments are formed, including all three factions. The neutralists usually lead the coalitions.

From 1964 to 1973 the US fight a secret war in Laos, against Laotian communists as well as North Vietnamese troops channeling war material to the Vietcong in South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Min Trail through Laos.

After the US forces begin their retreat from Indochina in 1973, the right-wing government in Vientiane is replaced by a coalition government of neutralists and the communist Pathet Lao.

In 1975, after communist troops conquered the capitals of Vietnam and Cambodia, the communist Pathet Lao gains sole power in Laos. While in Laos, too, parts of the population are detained in reeducation camps, there isn't the kind of revenge as in Cambodia. Former neutralist Premier Minister Souvanna is not even arrested, just demoted in rank to government advisor.

In the following decades Laos cultivates a close relationship to Vietnam. The most powerful man in communist Laos, General Secretary of the Revolutionary Party of the People, Kaysone Phomvihan, is half Laotian and half Vietnamese.

In March 1991, at the fifth congress of the Revolutionary People's Party, far-reaching changes of the economic structure of the country are decided. As in China and Vietnam, private business, free-market competition and foreign investment are permitted in order to accelerate the economic development of the country. However, as in China and Vietnam, political leaders are not inclined to share power in a multi-party system.


Without this knowledge, buying deprenyl may just be a waste of money. Or a dangerous experiment.