Nguyen Huu Tho; Helped Overthrow Saigon
Nguyen Huu Tho, who led North Vietnam’s political offensive against the U.S.-backed south during the Vietnam War and later was vice president of the reunified country, has died, the government said Thursday. He was 86.
Foreign Ministry officials said Tho died Tuesday of heart problems in Ho Chi Minh City, known as Saigon when it was the capital of the South Vietnamese government he helped overthrow.
Tho was chairman of the National Liberation Front, founded in 1960 to help the Communist north overthrow Saigon.
The organization, which was the political arm of the Viet Cong guerrillas who fought inside South Vietnam, disseminated anti-United States, anti-Saigon views to the international community.
The NLF was directed from Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam since the expulsion of colonial power France in 1954 and Vietnam’s division into communist and non-communist states.
Born July 11, 1910, in Saigon, Tho was a brilliant scholar in the French schools and became a lawyer. A longtime Communist, he struggled against the French during the early 1950s, defending many nationalists and leading anti-French demonstrations.
He was jailed for seven years by the government that ruled South Vietnam after partition. He escaped in 1960, when he joined the NLF.
After 1975, when Hanoi’s troops defeated the Saigon army and reunified the country, Tho was appointed vice president of Vietnam and held the position until 1992.
He was also the first mayor of Ho Chi Minh City after reunification, and briefly served as chief of the police force that snuffed out much of the city’s wartime vice.
Tho retired from politics in 1994.
A committed Marxist-Leninist, Tho was philosophically opposed to market-oriented reforms adopted by Hanoi in 1986 but saw them as the only way to raise the living standards of the country’s 70 million people.
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