Vietnam: paying war debt with people’s labour

As USA politicians frequently claimed, during the Vietnam war Northern Vietnam received a lot of support from Russia, among others. Consequently, there was a “Soviet war debt;” Vietnam’s debt was in the billions. But Vietnam was impoverished by the war. One way for the debt to be paid was for VIetnam to “send” workers to Russia to work. A proportion of their wages was kept in Russia. Some of the small amount was sent to family, and the rest was used to sustain a meager existence for at least five years. By that time, the workers were prey for the Russian Mafia.

Both men and women were sent, and what I’ve described is not officially setting up of prostitution rings. But it clearly could make women vulnerale to exploitation. The initial plan ended with the official Soviet union, and Vietnam is said now to traffic a lot in human beings.

The woman whose story I was listening to got back to her home after ten years of very demanding work. Her family arranged for her to marry a Vietnamese man in Houston. She very sadly entered another arena of stress and disrespect.

I could find very little about the exportation of VN citizens in the 80’s from any sources half-way reliable. One fairly believable one is here:

“Dark-skinned and plus size”

If you are watching the trial of Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin, you’ll probably get that the title above refers to Rachel Jeantel, with whom Martin was talking on the phone shortly before he was killed. It is from the Salon article linked to below.

I have seen her mostly on CNN, but I see many other members of the press to pick up the same theme: She is so different from white people, how can anyone side with her and her narrative? Well, at least there’s some recognition of the fact that racism is alive and well, but couldn’t they register that this is not a good thing?

Some commenters said she should have been trained to give testimony. I think that’s very close to saying that in court you have to sound like whites to be believable. On CNN Mark Garegos has been insisting that our court system is deeply affected by race. That certainly seems what most commenters believe. And there’s a lot of evidence in this trial – not to mention many others – that should frighten any supporter of a person of colour in a trial.

Back to the Salon article: Brittany Cooper tells us in

The thing about grammars, though, is that they rely on language, on a way of speaking and communicating, to give them power. And Rachel Jeantel has her own particular, idiosyncratic black girl idiom, a mashup of her Haitian and Dominican working-class background, her U.S. Southern upbringing, and the three languages – Hatian Kreyol (or Creole), Spanish and English — that she speaks.

The unique quality of her black vernacular speaking style became hypervisible against the backdrop of powerful white men fluently deploying corporate, proper English in ways that she could not do.  The way they spoke to her was designed not only to discredit her, but to condescend to and humiliate her. She acknowledged this show of white male power by repeatedly punctuating her responses with a curt but loaded, “Yes, Sir.”

Even more, she seemed very good at picking up on assumptions a question was carrying. “That’s real retarded, sir” was her (unfortunately abelist)comment on one.

If you look for her on youtube, avoid the comments unless you are feeling strong. I saw ones i’m hoping to forget.

Disrespecting one of zimmerman’s lawyers: