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by Walter Lippmann
Monday, May. 02, 2005 at 2:58 AM
Thirty years ago today Vietnam fell...into the hands of the Vietnamese. Actually, it was taken by the Vietnamese after decades of struggle. Cuba was there to support Vietnam all the way. A discussion of Vietnam and Cuba's links to it.
VIETNAM AND CUBA - THIRTY YEARS SINCE LIBERATION
by Walter Lippmann, CubaNews
This morning while slowly waking up, I listened to another of
the National Public Radio reports we've been getting this week
about what they like to refer to as "the fall of Saigon". When
I tried to remember exactly what I'd been doing on that special
day thirty years ago, I found it impossible. I had no idea what
I'd done that day. Of course I was still employed in the field
of social work here in Los Angeles.
But there was one thing I did remember, and have remembered ever
since that day. It was the televised images of the United States
helicopters flying out of Vietnam and the mobs of collaborators
with Washington's occupation army who were being abandoned by
their employers. That scene has been re-broadcast over and over
in the subsequent years. Israel abandoned its collaborators in
south Lebanon when it pulled out some years later.
Some day a similar scene is likely to play out in Iraq, too as
we've seen the powers that be in the United States have never
learned the simple truth that people don't like liberators who
come bearing bayonets.
Thirty years ago today I thought back over the previous decade
of anti-war struggle. Having been a participant in each of the
major mobilization since the first one, which had been called
by the Students for a Democratic Society in April 1965, it was
a very special moment. We'd worked hard and mobilized over and
over during that decade. The Vietnamese people, lead by their
own Vietnamese Communist Party, which had also organized the
National Liberation Front, were organized, educated, mobilized
and thrown into action to defend their country against yet one
more foreign invader. And the Vietnamese fought hard and beat
each and every one of them. Watching their victory was sweet.
Everything we'd ever been taught in school, which is known as
"conventional wisdom", could be summarized in the expression
"you can't fight city hall and win". This means that in the
final analysis, nothing can change, a message which those in
power want the majority to believe. It's beaten into us in a
thousand and one ways, from the first moments of awareness.
Vietnam's victory was a confirmation of the falseness of the
conventional wisdom. Cuba's success, now over 45 years after
its triumph, is also a confirmation of the falseness of such
conventional wisdom. In the beginning, a number of Cuban
parents against the Revolution sent their children to the
United States, assuming the Revolution would be overthrown
in a short time. After the fall of the Soviet Union, we were
told that Cuba couldn't survive the fall of its principal
economic supporter, the Soviet Union. But Cuba reconfigured
its international economic ties, opened itself up to both
tourism and foreign joint venture investment, and has been
able to survive quite well, despite over four decades of a
cruel blockade by the world's most powerful country.
Cuba had stood by Vietnam throughout its long struggle.
Che Guevara, after leaving Cuba, issued a famous statement,
his Message to the Tricontinental. That message resonates
for our times as well. Just substitute Iraq for Vietnam and
see how much it resonates for our times: A few paragraphs:
"There is a sad reality: Vietnam - a nation representing the
aspirations, the hopes of a whole world of forgotten peoples
- is tragically alone. This nation must endure the furious
attacks of U.S. technology, with practically no possibility
of reprisals in the South and only some of defense in the
North - but always alone.
"U.S. imperialism is guilty of aggression - its crimes are
enormous and cover the whole world. We already know all that,
gentlemen! But this guilt also applies to those who, when the
time came for a definition, hesitated to make Vietnam an
inviolable part of the socialist world; running, of course,
the risks of a war on a global scale-but also forcing a
decision upon imperialism. And the guilt also applies to those
who maintain a war of abuse and snares - started quite some
time ago by the representatives of the two greatest powers
of the socialist camp.
"Not for a long time shall we be able to know if President
Johnson ever seriously thought of bringing about some of the
reforms needed by his people - to iron out the barbed class
contradictions that grow each day with explosive power.
The truth is that the improvements announced under the
pompous title of the "Great Society" have dropped into
the cesspool of Vietnam."
In 1967, there were still in existence those social welfare
programs which had begun in the 1930s, during the New Deal,
when US capitalism had fallen into a deep depression and an
alternative society, however flawed, presented a different
modal for social organization: the Soviet Union. Today, as
the Soviet Union is but a topic for students and history
books, Washington is gutting what social programs remain in
existence to pay for Washington's conquest and occupations
of Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
CHE GUEVARA'S MESSAGE TO THE TRICONTINENTAL - COMPLETE
The political line of the National Public Radio and others
in the US media can be summarized as that the Vietnamese
have forgotten the past. Capitalism has triumphed and isn't
that wonderful? The reality is quite a bit more complex as
a bit of reflection and study demonstrates. After winning
its complete independence, Washington subjected Vietnam to
a brutal blockade for over a decade. After they observed
that the stick wasn't working, Washington and the rest of
the major capitalist powers opted to try the carrot as an
alternative. Vietnam opened itself up to significant US
and other foreign investment. Washington ended its cruel
blockade, and today Vietnam, while still a poor country,
is one of the economic powerhouses of the world.
There was one surprising report among the NPR series:
An interview with a Vietnamese who'd fought for the
French, then for Bao Dai, then for the United States.
He wrote to the French asking for a pension, but they
told him they didn't have any paperwork on him. And the
US wouldn't give him any help either, we're told. Now he
says he should have fought for the Communists because
his life would have been better today. Hard to believe
I heard that, and not on the grapevine, but on NPR!
It's four and a half minutes long, and worth listening to:
Allen Myers, a college room-mate of mine from Madison,
Wisconsin in the 1960s, who is still politically active,
provides this profile of Vietnam today. He lives and works
in Cambodia, but continues writing for Australia's GREEN
LEFT WEEKLY. Vietnam's opening to foreign investment has
had a complex and contradictory outcome which you can get
a sense of from Alan's profile after a recent visit.
I'd like to also strongly recommend that anyone wanting
to learn more about contemporary Vietnam should try to
see the movie THREE VIETNAMS by the Vietnamese American
director Tony Bui. It stars Harvey Keitel as a veteran
from the United States who returns to Vietnam in search
of the daughter he had and left behind. He meets her and,
well, you should read about and see the movie...
All the NPR programs about the Vietnam war:
Washington is still operating on the stick principle and
all of those people like Jeff Flake and others who say the
best way to get rid of Castro (by which they mean Cuba's
Revolution, of course), haven't had their opportunity to
run US foreign policy. They won't as long as George W. Bush
is running things. He's not like Richard Nixon who was on
the right, but an opportunist. Bush is on the right, but he
is a fundamentalist religious fanatic.
Finally, a report from the Vietnamese media on what Fidel
and other Cuban leaders did to mark the first day of the
liberation of Vietnam in 1975. Today, Raul Castro was
among the honored guests at today's Liberation Day
celebrations in Ho Chi Minh where plans were announced to
increase Vietnamese-Cuban cooperation.
58 thousand US soldiers were killed in Washington's stupid
attempt to conquer Vietnam. Vietnam is recovering, though
it's recovery is both contradictory and there has been a
substantial process of social differentiation resulting.
Vietnam is a close ally of Cuba. You can see Vietnamese
rice sold all over Cuba, in distinctive giant blue sacks.
Cuba, were the blockade lifted and relations between our
two countries normalized, would also, I am completely
convinced, experience rapid economic growth. Washington's
belief it has the right to determine for Cuba what form of
society and government it should have is deep rooted. The
notion precedes the birth of Fidel Castro's FATHER. It's
called "The Ripe Fruit Syndrome" as Cuba's Professor Carlos
Alzugaray has explained it.
Take a moment to read about the ripe fruit syndrome:
Fidel Castro Visits Embassy
Hanoi VNA in English 1859 GMT 1 May 75
[Text] Hanoi VNA 1 May--Fidel Castro Ruz, first secretary
of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba,
premier of the Cuban Revolutionary Government, last night
went to the Embassy of the Republic of South Vietnam in
Havana to welcome the great victory of the Vietnamese
people in completely liberating Saigon and the whole of
South Vietnam, according to VNA's correspondent in Cuba.
He was accompanied by Osvaldo Dorticos Torrado, member of
the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Cuban
Communist Party, president of the Republic of Cuba; Raul
Castro, second secretary of the party Central Committee,
first vice-premier of the government, and minister of
revolutionary armed forces; Armando Hart, Guillermo Garcia
and Sergio del Valle, members of the Political Bureau;
Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, secretariat member, vice-premier;
Jesus Montane, Osmany Cienfuegos, Jose A. Naranjo, members
of the PCC; and Joel Domenech and Flavio Bravo, members of
the party Central Committee and vice-premiers.
Fidel Castro and other Cuban party and government leaders
inquired into the situation--political, economic and
social--in South Vietnam and the unfolding of the campaign
for liberating Saigon.
Fidel Castro said that the Vietnamese people's victory was
one of the greatest exploits of mankind and one of the
greatest failures for the reactionary forces. The
Vietnamese people are very worthy of this great victory
because they have gone through nearly 30 years of hard
struggle full of sacrifices. He added: "We consider this
victory as our own. At this moment, I vividly remember the
victorious days of our revolutionary armed forces when we
moved in to capture the capital city on January 1959. My
impressions on hearing the news of victory of the South
Vietnamese people can compare with the deep emotion I felt
during those days."
On this occasion, Tran Kim Le, charge d'affaires ad interim
of the PRGRSV Embassy, and Ha Van Lau, ambassador of the
DRV to Cuba, expressed the deep gratitude of the Vietnamese
people for the warm support given by the Cuban party,
government and people, especially Premier Fidel Castro, to
their struggle at present as in the past.
While the Cuban leaders were visiting the PRGRSV Embassy, a
big crowd of people outside carrying portraits of President
Ho Chi Minh, chanted the slogan: "Victorious Vietnam has
defeated U.S. imperialism." -END-
There will be a gigantic rally in Havana tomorrow, Sunday,
to mark May Day. I'll guess it will be even bigger than
ever! You'll be able to listen to it at 8 AM Havana Time
using http://www.radiorebelde.com.cu I must go now. That
is six and a half hours from now.
Walter Lippmann, CubaNews
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