Laos is a missing link in Asia's fight against organized crime

The volume of methamphetamine seized in the region surged around sevenfold in the five years to 2019.

Billions of dollars are being made each year, and the impact is being felt across the Asia-Pacific region.

The majority of those drugs are from the Golden Triangle, the border region where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet.

Myanmar's Shan State is a particularly important production hub, and in response, Myanmar authorities have conducted major operations against drug labs and complexes in places controlled by independent militias, seizing record amounts of drugs and contraband.

The country's neighbors are also taking action. Thailand has also tasked paramilitary police and the military to confront traffickers along the country's northwestern border with Myanmar, and China is trying to stem the flow of drugs from Myanmar into neighboring Yunnan province.…  Seguir leyendo »

Buried in a closet is a suitcase where my mother hides an heirloom from the war. I have seen it only once, by chance when she was reorganizing. It is a traditional Hmong jacket. Instead of being pristine and vibrant like the ones I wear to the Hmong New Year, it is thin, tattered and faded. This is the jacket my mother wore as a girl, growing up in the mountains of Laos. It is what she wore the night her family fled their village in fear of retribution from the Communists following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.

Underneath this jacket is another one, also old and ragged.…  Seguir leyendo »

As a public servant, I am confronted every day by serious problems without clear solutions. Once in awhile, however, I come upon a problem that actually can be fixed, if only we summon the necessary will and resources. The scourge of unexploded ordnance in Laos - remnants of a war that ended decades ago but still kills innocent civilians - is just such a problem.

Earlier this year, I traveled to Laos in the first delegation composed entirely of congressmen whose roots are from the Asia-Pacific region. We were there to address a number of foreign-policy issues, but I will never forget our visit with officials responsible for overseeing bomb-clearance work in Laos.What…  Seguir leyendo »