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South Vietnam To Slow Strategic Hamlet Program

Dec. 2, 1963 - The Provisional Government of South Vietnam has decided to slow down the strategic hamlet program, which was the cornerstone of the campaign against Communist guerrillas by the regime of the late Ngo Dinh Diem. The Military Revolutionary Council has called a temporary halt to the construction of new hamlets — fortified rural villages designed to win peasant support for the Government and to give them adequate defense against the Viet Cong guerrillas. Under Diem, the hamlet program aroused deep popular resentment, especially in the Mekong Delta south of Saigon. There, tens of thousands of peasants were forced to leave their homes and ordered to help build the new villages surrounded by barbed-wire barricades. In the last few months, the hamlets have encountered severe difficulties in the rice-rich and heavily populated Delta region. Americans working in rural areas have reported that Viet Cong forces have recently been overrunning and infiltrating hamlets in Delta provinces at an alarming rate. Because of the unpopularity of the program, villagers seized on the change in government to leave their hamlets. Several thousand are reported to have left hamlets in five Mekong Delta provinces since the coup.


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