Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 11. 1965.
Sirs,—In the June 29 issue of Salient, "GEJL" questions the honesty and conscientiousness of the United States Information Service over what appeared to be a discrepancy between a recent USIS pamphlet and a BBC correspondent's statistics for rice exports from South Vietnam.
May I place this matter in its proper perspective by explaining that the pamphlet was designed to tell the story of the overall economic progress made by South Vietnam, with the aid of more than 30 other countries, since the partition arising from the Geneva Accords of 1954.
One example of the progress cited was the bumper rice crop of 5.3 million tons in 1963 which resulted in a surplus of some 300,000 tons for export that year. The BBC correspondent was correct in citing the sharp drop in rice exports in 1964 and since, and indeed the necessity of imports of United States rice this year. The present rice shortage is due to the harassment of South Vietnamese farmers and the sabotage of distribution facilities by the vietcong guerrillas.
Thus, in spite of greatly increased levels of rice production as described in the USIS pamphlet, there is not sufficient rice to withstand this drain and at the same time provide a surplus for export. Technically speaking, the cover on the pamphlet may be considered out of date because it does not reflect the stoppage in rice exports this year. But for "GEJL" to use this matter as a basis for questioning the integrity of USIS on the Vietnam struggle is to distort the essence of the pamphlet's message —namely, that if given the chance to work in peace the people of South Vietnam can look ahead with confidence to a better life.
Richard J. Gordon, Cultural Affairs Officer.