Truong Chinh, a hard-line Marxist ideologue who helped found Vietnam’s Communist Party and served as its leader, died from injuries suffered in a fall, the Vietnam News Agency said Saturday. He was 81.
Communist literature once lauded Chinh as “the first builder and commander of the Vietnam revolution.” He served twice as the Communist Party chief, once in the 1950s and again in 1986.
U.S. government documents described him as Vietnam’s most hated leader, having the mind of a “fanatic.” French historian Bernard Fall estimated that 50,000 people were executed in Chinh’s drive to “reform” the North Vietnamese countryside during the 1950s.
The official news agency said Chinh died at his Hanoi home Friday of a severe hemorrhage more than one hour after an accidental fall. Five days of official mourning begin today.
Chinh began his political life 63 years ago and was one of the last of Vietnam’s Old Guard revolutionaries. He belonged to a passing generation of leaders who founded the country’s Communist Party, fought four wars and united the nation in 1975.
His death leaves only Pham van Dong, Le Duc Tho and Vo Nguyen Giap among a group of near legendary figures who fought the French, Japanese, Americans and Chinese but failed to bring prosperity or personal freedom to Vietnam once the wars were won.