The danger of nationalisms
It is probably that somebody could say that I am impartial in the Cambodian-Thailand Conflict for the dispute area near the Preah Vihia Temple. It is true that living 11 years in Cambodia makes me feel more Cambodian than Thai, of course. It is true also that coming from a far country like Colombia gives me certain authority to say something. I honor also the beautiful Thai people, a great country where I have good friends and places to admire. With all these things in mind, I want to say something from my perspective: Respectful, it is the Thai army the agressor.
You have to study carefully the Thai and Khmer cultures to realize that both nations are actually brothers and sons of similar ancestors. Going through Bangkok, you can feel in the cultural atmosphere many Khmer elements – food, music, religion… As Khmer is oldest in the Indochina Peninsula than Thailand, at least as a political state, it is like Cambodia is Greece and Thailand is Italy. Cambodia is first and it is impossible to deny it. Thailand has been built over the Cambodian territory, history and culture. It does not mean that Thailand is not authentic or it is an invader, but Thai people should recognize it not in humilitation, but in brotherly afection. The proud European countries do not feel humiliated to recognize that they were built from the ancient Greece civilization and the Roman Empire. A first element of peace would be to honor the Khmer ancestors and respect their more direct descendants, the Cambodian people of today. Moreover, there is a meaninful Khmer population in Thailand and Vietnam, to mention only the nearest countries.
It is also necessary to study the history. Who and how somebody can deny that Cambodia has been reduced in its territory throughout the centuries? If a historian denies it, he would be inmediately a liar and not a scientist. Only politicians dare to do so and blind nationalists. Bad or good, the French colony saved the Cambodian territory from being distributed between Thailand and Vietnam. Before France, Cambodia was a permanent victim of Thai and Vietnamese invasions and encroachments.
Thailand has not legal evidences to claim the 40 kilometers sq. it is claiming near the temple. It would be also ridiculous to say that Preah Vihia Temple belongs to Thailand. The Temple was built during the 11th century, in a time when Thailand was inexistent as a state, by a Khmer Emperor… How can Thailand claim it is a ‘Thai temple’?
It is then a blind nationalist claim and a political-motivated agression that would lead only to disasters. There is not a small enemy. Cambodia comes from suffering and got a strong spirit. The Thai leaders should wake to lucidity, suspend any agression and sit down with their Khmer brothers, as they are, to build peace and common development for their peoples.