One of the early security programs in the countryside was the Agroville Program. This was an idea, an early idea of the government, to bring people into a secure area to provide them with protection and a better economic life. Twenty odd such large villages were envisioned the beginning, and they began to go out into the countryside, into, in secure areas, and round up the people who lived beyond the capability of the army to provide protection for them, and to move them in.
Inherent in this idea uh were some basic flaws. In Saigon, in the central area, the government was still trying to resettle a million refugees from the north, having trouble with the Binh Xuyen
and some of the dissident groups that were fighting for power, palace coups.
As a result, there was not an awful lot of time left for the management of uh this new idea. They selected some terrible sites- sites that had no long term uh economic advantages for the people. Some places that were almost impossible to defend because of a uh logistical considerations.
And, the implementers, the people who were sent out there to implement these programs, to act as leaders, quite often were ruthless. In an autocratic system, if the order comes down that says everybody, every able bodied man and woman works, they would even take people who were quite sick and make them work.
During my visits to several of these places and through Vietnamese friends, it came to understand that some people who were sick actually worked and fell dead building a fence or building a dike or one of the community houses.
This alienated the population inside because of inse—insecure areas the Viet Cong were still able to attack them, the government forces were unable to make it uh totally secure for the people and because of a lack of aid and a lack of logistical uh help to the people to better their lives economically, their lives were much worse inside of these Agrovilles in the beginning days than they were where they used to live in relatively, in relative peace but under Viet Cong domination.