173. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State 1

12456. Subject: Status Report on Resettlement of CIF.2 Ref: Bangkok 12010.

As of late August the RTG reports that 1153 CIF families have been permanently resettled, an increase of 343 since the May 31 report.3 [Page 373]The average family is allocated 15 rai (2.53 rai equals 1 acre) for its personal use (although ownership is not formally turned over to them). A total of approximately 5,000 individuals are involved.
In many cases, the families have been living for some time as squatters in villages in the area in which they have now been given refugee status and allocations of land. In these cases, the allocated land has quickly been put to use for crops and livestock. Several new areas are also being opened up. For example, 200 families are scheduled to be resettled in new areas of Chiang Rai Province (areas previously dominated by Communist insurgents). A number of settlers at these two sites are at work building houses and clearing land. Schools to be staffed by Thai teachers are being erected.
In addition to land allocated to families, the Government also intends to set aside large tracts as common land to be used for the economic good of the community as a whole.
From the economic point of view, the project is viewed as falling into two parts, one aimed at producing the quickest cash return and the second aimed at putting the CIF on a permanently viable economic basis.
The RTG has asked for assistance from Taipei in high elevation horticulture to assist in the rapid development of cash crops. Experimentation and research areas are being set aside to help determine which crops are most suitable. The longer term economic base is to be founded on production of tea, cattle, mining, fruit, and vegetable seeds.
Some setbacks have been encountered in tea cultivation. Only 50 percent of the 450,000 plants already set out have survived. The Government has hired tea propagation experts from Taiwan to advise the settlers and has ordered new and better cuttings to replace the plants that died. It will be five years before the plants will have matured and start producing. The Government will provide a tea processing plant capable of producing 2,000 kilograms of tea per day, with this level of production to be achieved within ten years.
The CIF have approximately 600 head of brahman cattle from Burma, and they plan to double the size of their herds within one year by additional purchases. The Government is providing grass seed more suitable for cattle raising and will train additional CIF in the technique of artificial insemination. Eight are already qualified but more are needed. The CIF hope to be able to export cattle by the end of this year.
Antimony mining is scheduled to begin this year at Mae Salong in Chiang Rai. The Department of Mines is surveying the region to determine the best location for extracting the antimony. The Department of Mines must also give final approval before actual work can get underway.
General Kriangsak estimates that the CIF will be fully self-sufficient within two years.
The mobile development units in the area are training CIF personnel as mechanics to repair and maintain equipment which is being provided for use in agriculture in the common areas. Twelve mechanics from each group are to be trained initially. The mobile development units are also building roads in some of the newly opened areas.
At the present time, the CIF have been given refugee status under Thai law. If this program works out as planned, the Government plans to change their status progressively from refugees to temporary residents, to permanent residents, and finally to Thai nationals.
General Kriangsak told us this week that, with the insurgency problem somewhat quieter in Chiang Rai Province, the RTG expects to be able to devote more time and resources to the resettlement project. This will entail full time assignment of one or two RTG officers to each of the settlement areas (which are now visited periodically). This will not only speed successful resettlement, but will also enhance the RTG’s capability to enforce the agreement to stay out of opium trafficking.
The RTG has expended a total of $733,000 in support of its program to resettle the CIF.
I believe the RTG’s performance in resettling the CIF constitutes a satisfactory execution of their commitment to us. They have carried forward the types of programs upon which we and they have agreed, they have expended more than $700,000 of their own funds, and progress to date has been encouraging. I believe the RTG has also investigated seriously the allegations we have passed to them that Li and Tuan are not abiding by their commitment to get out of the opium trade. In a discussion with Brady and Boyer from the House Foreign Affairs Committee within the past few days, Kriangsak reaffirmed his government’s determination to hold Li and Tuan to their promise. While a number of allegations against them have been made, none of these contains sufficient substance to warrant withholding our final payment. Basic situation remains as described reftel. I, therefore, plan to go ahead with final payment on September 6.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 9–5 CHINAT. Secret; Nodis.
  2. For a discussion of the resettlement of the CIF, see Document 152.
  3. Telegram 12010 from Bangkok, August 24, reported allegations of violations by CIF Generals Li and Tuan of their resettlement/narcotics agreement with the Thai Government, “sourced for the most part to persons of unknown reliability and undetermined access.” It concluded that “none of the reports contain sufficient substance to lead us seriously to consider holding up the final payment,” but promised to “continue to monitor situation most closely.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 9–5 CHINAT)