Vietnam Time

9/21/2018 8:53:58 AM

Fidel Castro, a dedicated friend of Vietnam (part II)

Stories told by former Ambassador of Vietnam to Cuba, former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Dinh Bin, reflected the special affection of Fidel Castro for President Ho Chi Minh, the admirable counterpart he had never met. 

Fidel and Ho Chi Minh

The love Fidel had for Vietnam was not only conveyed in his 100 speeches, but also through what he shared in various meetings with leades and the people of Vietnam.

First and foremost, what we remember about Fidel is the longstanding friendship with President Ho Chi Minh. Despite the two presidents didn’t have chance to meet in person, beyond the distance, great minds still think alike. Common ideals, perception, the determination, vision, wills, and virtues are shared.

Tình cảm Việt Nam - Cuba là có một không hai trong lịch sử, là hình mẫu cao đẹp cần được xây dựng trong quan hệ quốc tế hiện đại.

In all of his visits to Vietnam, Fidel Castro always spoke about President Ho’s virtues, talents and contribution to Vietnam’s revolutionary path and national liberation in a dedicated way. Documentary photo

There were countless time the Cuban national leader, in front of the public, expressed  his love, respect and admiration for President Ho.

I will never forget the sorrow on Fidel’s face when he came to the Vietnamese Embassy to pay tribute to President Ho when his passing was announced in 1969. He spent a great deal of time on talking about President Ho, regretting that he had missed the chance to meet the respected friend and counterpart.

On behalf of President Fidel Castro, two of his close comrades, among the five highest ranking leaders of Cuba, Commander Juan Almeida and Ramiro Valdes, flied to Hanoi to pay tribute to the great friend of Cuba.

“We regret that we could not come to Vietnam before September 3, 1969. We didn’t have the chance to meet with President Ho, the one we truly admire. Fortunately, we had the chance to know the Vietnamese people, and see the reflection of President Ho’s value, teaching, contribution, the heroism and humbleness”, said Fidel.

In all of his visits to Vietnam, Fidel Castro always spoke about President Ho’s virtues, talents and contribution to Vietnam’s revolutionary path and national liberation in a dedicated way.

In my mind, I still remember clearly the affection of Fidel for Vietnam, reflecting in his warm welcome for Prime Minister (PM) Pham Van Dong during in his visit to Cuba in March 1974.

Ông Nguyễn Đình Bin phiên dịch cuộc gặp giữa ông Fidel và Thủ tướng Phạm Văn Đồng vào tháng 3-1974. Ảnh tư liệu

President Fidel Castro meet PM Pham Van Dong (L). Documentary photo. 

President Fidel had organized an event with the participation of over 300,000 people in Jose Marti Revolutionary Square in Havana to welcome PM Pham Van Dong. It was also the venue where the Vietnamese leader made his speech in front of the Cuban public.

 He afterwards took the PM to visit significant sights of interest in the country. He even surprised the PM by making a spontaneous visit to him in person at the Cuban Guest House for leaders.

.I also cannot forget the warm welcome of Fidel for General Vo Nguyen Giap during his official visit to Cuba in late 1975. The two senior Commander-in-Chief, two legendary heroes of two farapart countries were close to each other like brothers.

Vietnam had always been securing a special place in Fidel’s heart. Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang was the last foreign leader who met Fidel before his passing.

Hard-to-find model of solidarity

Following the path Fidel had walked, Cuba has always been the pioneer in supporting the resistant war against foreign invaders of Vietnam. The spirit were displayed through various activities, which were vigorously conducted from central to local level, practically and continuously across the nation.

Cuba was the first country that had established the Committee of Solidarity with Vietnam, led by Melba Hernandez, the Moncada heroine, a comrade of Fidel.

At the same time, Cuba was the first country to recognize the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, giving the Front the permission to establish its representative office in La Habana as a diplomatic agency, providing necessary facilities and subsidize operation expenditure.

Furthermore, Cuba was also the first country that assigned Ambassador to present diplomatic credentials to Vietnam and let reporters come to the liberated zone of South Vietnam.

In later year, Cuba annually presented to Vietnam 10,000 tonne of sugar.

The country also lended support to the Vietnamese national radio station, the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) in terms of infrastructures, manpowers, technology transfer, which help facilitate its broadcast in US and the Western hemisphere.

In 1972, a team of medical officers were assigned to Vietnam. At the same time, two vessels, El Jigue and Imias, were sent to Vietnam, carrying aids and weapons to Haiphong port. 

In the 1970s, over 1,000 engineers, technicians, Cuba’s workers and necessary equipment, materials had been provided for Vietnam to implement 5 projects which were the gifts from Fidel.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. For many years, Cuba has been standing by Vietnam’s side persistently, even when it had to cope with its own rampant difficulties.

Coutless activities to demonstrate the solidarity with Vietnam were held, from the central to local level. Countless streets, schools, factories, parks in Cuba were named Vietnam.

Words are not enough to describe the solidarity, the support of Fidel, as well as of Cuban people for Vietnam. This friendship is hard to find, and is a role model which should be replicated in contemporary international affairs./.

  ( Translated by Phi Yen )
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