Nepal: Maoist rebel wary of Bush - "Now there is a third power, the United States, led by Mr. George Bush, who thinks the whole world belongs to him. He can do anything he likes as no rule applies to him."
"How dare Pres Bush even consider thwarting our communist insurgency and stop us from doing whatever we want in a murderous fashion to a peacful country."
While I was in Nepal 1995/96 even the sympathizers seemed a bit embarrassed they'd chosen Maoism as a vehicle for change "We are a small and poor country and we must start somewhere." I suggested they start with something other than discredited Communism, but the conversation then began to get tense.
But they do have a legitimate beef, which is that the Rana royal government has indeed got a stranglehold on the entire country, and that the Nepali Army is basically the private Rana police force. Huge amounts of trekking money (which is about 60 percent of GDP) go back to the Ranas and their cronies, as do monies from the unfinished aid projects which lay rotting all around the country. Outside Kathmandu and the trekking areas, the vast majority of Nepalis live in the condition of medieval serfs.
Semi-recent eyewitness reports from friends are that (a) the Maoists will cheerily negotiate a "trekking fee" in the areas they control, ranging from a few dollars to several hundred $$ for a larger group; (b) sometimes locals posing as Maoists will also pull the same routine; and (c) one trekker witnessed the Maoists "liberating" a candy store and handing the proceeds to the local kiddies. To my knowledge no trekker/climber has been harmed since the uprising began, however there are rumors that some have been kidnapped for a few hours until their pals turned over the requisite trekking fee. And again, this could be the work of imposters, no one really knows.
But even more bizarre (and proving this is not the Maoist revolution that Comrade Mao knew), here are some excerpts from the letter faxed by the Maoists to international media outlets last year:
15 March, 2002
Dear Foreign Tourists,
Welcome to the country on the roof of the world and warmest greetings from the materially poor but spiritually rich people of Nepal!
As you very well know, a revolutionary People's War (PW) under the leadership of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is raging in Nepal against a fascist, monarchical state since February 1996.
We are fighting for a genuine people's democracy in the country.
As you know, in the current political dispensation in Nepal, the real state power vests in the feudal monarchy that effectively controls the royal army, and the parliament is a mere showcase to embellish the hereditary autocracy.
And are we against the tourism industry in general and foreign tourists in particular?
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
We are all for making maximum utilisation of the natural and cultural resources for the rapid economic development and wellbeing of the country and the people.
And given the exquisite natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of the country, promotion of tourism obviously comes high in the priority list of the future economic development policy.
The foreign tourists are, therefore, kindly advised not to venture into areas where active fighting is going on.
They are most welcome into the revolutionary base areas, which are firmly under the control of the revolutionary forces.
We deeply regret the inconveniences likely to cause to you all.
Wishing you all the best for a future visit to a democratic, progressive and prosperous people's republic of Nepal,
Dr Baburam Bhattarai, Convenor, United Revolutionary People's Council, Nepal