Vietnam - Cuba: 60 years of historic friendship

Thursday, 2020-01-02 17:54:46
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At a photo exhibition to mark the 45th anniversary of Cuban President Fidel Castro's visit to the southern liberation area of Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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NDO - Permanent Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son recently wrote an article about the time-honoured and special relationship between Vietnam and Cuba.

Vietnam and Cuba have a very special relationship. The two countries are both comrades and brothers. The cohesion of revolutionary ideals, and the fight for national independence and liberation has created empathy and understanding between the two peoples from halfway around the world. Great sentiments have been nurtured throughout 60 years of ups and downs of the two countries individual histories, even going beyond limits and common rules in international relations.

Vietnam and Cuba share similarities in their key events throughout history, which not only changed the destiny of each country but also created a great source of encouragement for the uprising of oppressed peoples from around the world. In the 1950s, in harmony with the irreversible flow of the struggle against colonialism and for national liberation, Vietnam were victorious at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Cuba also had a glorious victory on January 1, 1959, which was considered one of the most influential events in Latin America in the 20th century, causing many changes in the regional political situation.

Shortly after the successful revolution, on December 2, 1960, the Republic of Cuba became the first country in the Western Hemisphere to establish full diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. This was not only a significant event in the relationship between the two countries, but also had a special significance for the syoung Government of Vietnam at the time. Overcoming geographical distance and difficult circumstances, Cuba has stood shoulder to shoulder with Vietnam, always supporting the Vietnamese people as a sincere friend and a trusted comrade. During the period of resistance war against the US for national salvation, Cuba was always at the forefront of the international movement to support Vietnam, and the first country in the world to recognise the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam, accepting a Mission of Permanent Representative of the Front in July, 1962, appointing an Ambassador in March, 1969 and being the only foreign representative to the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam.

In the early 1960s, when the US expanded the war of aggression against Vietnam, at the same time, it cut off diplomatic relations and imposed a trade embargo on Cuba, under the direct guidance of Fidel Castro, the Cuban Committee for Solidarity with South Vietnam was born. Through this, the solidarity with Vietnam spread to Cuban schools, hospitals, factories, construction sites, armed forces and all Cuban people, becoming a nationwide movement with the slogan "All for Vietnam". There is no other country in the world like Cuba, where there are thousands of factories, schools and neighbourhoods named after places and anti-US heroes of Vietnam.

As the highest leader of the Party and State, Fidel Castro also marched with the whole people, showing solidarity with Vietnam. Fidel’s immortal saying “For Vietnam, we are willing to give even our own blood” this message has always stayed in the hearts of the Vietnamese people. At a critical time in the struggle of the Vietnamese people, Fidel turned his foreign trips into campaigns to encourage the government and people of the countries to unite and support Vietnam against the US invasion. On September 16, 1973, Fidel was the first foreign leader to visit the newly-liberated area in Quang Tri.

The Vietnamese people never forget Cuban cadres, experts and workers who came to Vietnam during the intense and dangerous time of the war. They are Cuban sailors who stayed and worked with Vietnamese people during the bombing days at Hai Phong port. They are Cuban workers and experts who stood side by side with Vietnamese soldiers to help build the legendary Truong Son Trail, the Dong Hoi Friendship Hospital, and Thang Loi Hotel, among others. Cuban aid works were not only precious gifts, but also showed the special affection of the Cuban people when Vietnam faced numerous difficulties.

Not only having stood by Vietnam during the wartime, Cuba also stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Vietnam in the cause of national construction and development. Cuba played a very important role in mobilising Latin American countries to support Vietnam to join the United Nations in 1977.

In the new era of each country's revolution, Vietnam continued to gain important achievements in the renewal process, international integration whilst Cuba continued to make great efforts in the cause of national construction and development. Cuba is still facing numerous difficulties. As a brother, Vietnam always attaches great importance to the solidarity and cooperation shared with Cuba.

Experiencing the ups and downs of history, the two countries are now facing new opportunities and new challenges. The time-honoured relationship and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Cuba has consistently been strengthened and developed in all fields. The two countries have maintained regular high-level visits and meetings in order to assess the development of bilateral relations, as well as discuss new directions, as well as continuously deepen the special relationship between the two Parties, States and peoples for the benefit of the two nations.

It can be affirmed that there are many factors for Vietnam and Cuba to further nurture and develop their bilateral relations. Both countries are aware of the opportunity and the need to stand side by side in international forums, protect the basic principles of the UN Charter and international law, and protect the rights and interests of small countries in the complicated geopolitical area where there can be intervention and imposition from big countries. While Vietnam is entering a period of deeper international integration, and having passed a series of new-generation free trade agreements, Cuba, after a period of researching and learning from the experiences of Vietnam and its friends, is also focusing on updating its economic development model.

Both Vietnam and Cuba agreed to assess the two countries as important economic partners. Vietnam was selected by Cuba to be the first partner in Asia to research, negotiate and sign a new trade agreement in November, 2018). The two sides also implemented the medium-term bilateral economic agenda for the 2014-2019 period and prepared to sign the programme for the 2020-2025 period. Vietnam has become Cuba's second largest trading partner in Asia and Oceania and is Cuba's main rice supplier. In addition, Vietnam has also supported Cuba to develop its rice production to help the country gradually ensure stability.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Cuba, the two countries are extremely proud of their revolutionary career and the faithful solidarity relationship between the two Parties and peoples. Vietnam and Cuba also firmly believe in a bright future for each country and the special relationship that the two Parties and peoples shared over the past six decades. We believe in the strong vitality of the slogan that has accompanied and energised the two countries on every journey: Vietnam - Cuba! Unity will certainly win!