Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Castro Speech

Havana Domestic Radio/Television Services in Spanish 2251 GMT 26 Mar 74 F/C

[Speech by Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro at a Vietnam solidarity and
friendship rally held at the Plaza de la Revolucion in honor of the
visiting DRV delegation led by Premier Pham Van Dong--live]

[Text] Noble and heroic representative of the Vietnamese people and other
members of the delegation of the party and government of Vietnam
[applause], Comrades of the Cuban party and government [applause],

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans are gathered this afternoon to hold this
splendid event of solidarity with Vietnam. We have finally had the
opportunity to receive a high-level delegation of the party and government
in order to express our most profound feelings of solidarity with the
people of Vietnam.

Several days ago that delegation arrived headed by Comrade Pham Van Dong
[applause], whose spirit and character--affectionate and fraternal--in his
contacts with our people, our workers, our students and our Pioneers have
won him the love of all our people. There is no need to say much about
Comrade Pham Van Dong. When one says member of the Polithuro of the
glorious of Ho Chi Minh [applause] and untiring fighter who has devoted an
entire life to the struggle for the independence and freedom of this
fatherland, who knew colonial prisons for many long years and who fought
selflessly and heroically in the national liberation forces of his
fatherland, Vietnam that says it all.

There are many things binding Vietnam and Cuba. We, of course, are united
in the first place by the nature of our membership in the community of
socialist countries [applause], and our character of people who are
inspired in the principles of Marxism-Leninism [applause]. But, our two
peoples are united by a similar history during the past 100 years. Vietnam
has been fighting for hundreds of years against all those who have
attempted to invade and occupy their soil. But no other era in the history
of Vietnam has been as hard as the one during the time of colonialism and

They had, long before we had, already founded a nation with a deep culture.
And when the Spanish conquistadores arrived on this island, Vietnam was
already a nation. Vietnam had already fought very hard for its national
independence. But during the era of colonialism and imperialism, which was
the result of the development of the capitalist system, the troops of
foreign power--without any other authority but might--came from thousands
of kms away to occupy Vietnam. And in 1858, a flotilla of the French empire
aggressively arrived at the Vietnamese coast and started the aggression
against that country.

At the time, a national awareness was beginning to forge in our country. In
1859, Saigon was occupied and the resistance struggle of the Vietnamese
people, which lasted until 1897, began. A few years later Carlos Manuel de
Cespedes launched the first war of independence of Cuba. And when the Cuban
patriots were fighting against Spanish colonialism in the fields of
Camaguey and Las Villas [provinces] the Vietnamese patriots were fighting
against French colonialism.

Cuba's first war of independence ended in 1878--a war which was to continue
in one way or another till the end of the century, while the struggle of
the Vietnamese people continued on.

Even at that time Marti wrote impassioned, fervent words recognizing and
admiring the heroic Vietnamese people. [applause]

That is why we can say that the first seeds of the Cubans' solidarity with
Vietnam were sown then. [applause] Our independence struggle resurged
energetically in 1895. And when Spanish colonial dominion was ending in our
land, in 1897, French colonial dominion in Vietnam was consolidated.

Nonetheless, we did not win our genuine independence. Once Spanish dominion
ended, the military occupation of Cuba began through U.S. intervention into
our war of independence. The Platt Amendment came next, and the domination
of our country by the Yankee imperialists followed.

The life of the Vietnamese, during the first decades of the this century,
paralleled that of the Cuban people--imperialism ensconced itself in both
our fatherlands with all its excesses, injustices, exploitations, crimes
and abominable vices. Therefore, we experienced those years under similar
conditions. And thus we reached the era of World War I with them under
French and we under Yankee domination.

After World War I the world was partially distributed between the
imperialist forces which won it. The world map that was studied between
those two wars was depicted by the colors of each of the big imperialist
countries. And Vietnam appeared on the universal maps with the colors of
French imperialism, while Cuba appeared with the colors of Yankee

World War II came. China and Indochina were occupied by Japanese
imperialism. And when the ware ended, the Vietnamese--directed by their
Marxist-Leninist party and their genial leader, Ho Chi Minh
[applause]--rose up in arms and established the DRV.

it seemed that after so many years of struggle and sacrifice, the people of
Vietnam, the entire people of Vietnam, were at last to have their
independence. But this did not turn out thus. The French imperialists were
bent on reconquering and subjugating the country once more. And, in
1946--at the end of that year-- the French completed reoccupation of almost
all the cities of Vietnam.

That then gave rise to the initiation of a new, long , heroic struggle for
Vietnamese independence--a struggle which ended in 1954 with the historic
victory of Dien Bien Phu over French colonialism, [applause] through the
Geneva agreements signed that same year.

The DRV was established. But an important part of Vietnam to the south
remained under the control of a puppet government. Nevertheless, the Geneva
agreements recognized Vietnam's right to independence, sovereignty and
integrity. By the same token those agreements established the obligation to
hold general elections so the people of Vietnam could decide their own

It was then that Yankee imperialism, which had been already energetically
supporting the French in their war of repression, intervenes in South
Vietnam, replaces the French imperialists, supports the puppet regime and
practically takes over the country. And of course, the first thing they did
was to sabotage the Geneva agreements. They knew which was the wish of the
Vietnamese people. They knew what the unavoidable results of the elections
would be. And that notwithstanding, or precisely due to that, they
sabotaged the agreements, blocked the elections and established a
neocolonialist and fascist government in South Vietnam.

The Cubans know well what a neocolonialist and fascist government is. It
means surrender. It means treason. It means exploitation.

It means looting. It means plundering. And it particularly means
repression, murders, persecutions and tortures of all types for the people
and the revolutionary combatants, something very similar to what is
occurring today in Chile, Bolivia or Paraguay, wherever there is a fascist
government supported by the Yankees.

The heroic and courageous patriots of South Vietnam saw themselves
subjected to this situation for many years. Five years after 1954, on 1
January 1959, the revolution wins in Cuba. [applause] One year later, in
January 1960, the Vietnamese patriots in the south, ferociously redeemed,
decided not to endure imperialist oppression any longer and went to war
against the puppet regime [applause] and the struggle for liberation for
this part of the Vietnamese people begins again. But his time, they had to
confront Yankee imperialism, which was mightier, more aggressive, richer
and more ferocious than French imperialism.

Despite the economic and military support, the patriots were overwhelmingly
winning and would have swept out the puppet, neocolonialist regime in a
very short time. But the Yankee imperialists were not ready to allow such a
thing to happen and began the so-called specialists' war against the South
Vietnamese people. They sent tens of thousand of military advisers, weapons
and all types of aid, used all means that imperialism has developed to
subdue the peoples in order to avoid the victory and liberation of the
Vietnamese people.

But the specialists' war failed and then they began to send tens of
thousands of troops, first, and later hundreds of thousands of Yankee
troops initiating the local war in South Vietnam. Such a degree of
unpopularity and demoralization had reached that regime that the
imperialists had to send half a million troops there in order to stop the
people's victory. Tens of thousand of mercenaries from other countries also
went there, besides the puppet regime's troops.

Simultaneously, they began the war of destruction in North Vietnam by
indiscriminately attacking the DRV people, attacking schools, hospitals,
cities, some of which, like in the case of (Dan Hoi), were totally erased
from the map; they also tried to destroy the Vietnamese economy with the
excuse that the North Vietnamese patriots were determinedly in solidarity
with their South Vietnamese brothers. Because, as Ho Chi Minh once said,
those of the south were citizens of Vietnam and the rivers could dry out
and the mountains could erode, but that truth will always remain.

All the equipment, all the material resources--economic and human--of
imperialism were unable to conquer the heroic Vietnamese people, either in
the north or in the south, either by means of a local war or by a war of
destruction. In 1968 they were forced to halt the bombing of a large part
of the north. Later they developed a new doctrine-- the doctrine of
Vietnamization of the war. They organized large armies made up of puppet
troops to make the Vietnamese fight against Vietnamese, supported of course
by the Yankee air force and the military bases they had in South Vietnam.

But the Vietnamese people confronted this new strategy successfully. And to
avoid the overthrow of the puppets, the imperialists found it necessary to
resume the criminal bombings against North Vietnam.

But all their efforts proved to no avail. The massive use of aviation, the
use of the B-52's were useless in the face of the stanch, determined will
of the Vietnamese people's will to resist, [applause] and the same Yankee
imperialists found it necessary to acknowledge that reality.

For the Paris agreements came in 1973, when on this occasion the Yankee
imperialists-- no longer the French--in the wake of so long a time, so many
years of struggle, so much bloodshed, and so many sacrifices, recognized
the Vietnamese people's right to independence, their right to decide their
own destinies and their national integrity.

The imperialists likewise found themselves dutybound to withdraw all their
troops and military from South Vietnam. [applause] They also had to
recognize that there were two governments and two armies in South
Vietnam--a large part of South Vietnam was liberated. [applause] But, of
course, that did not mean that the imperialists were renouncing their goal
of maintaining in South Vietnam a puppet, fascist and neocolonialist
government, nor that they had not done their utmost to also sabotage the
Paris agreements.

In point of fact, after the Paris agreements, the puppets--backed and
encouraged by the Yankees--have refused to comply with the commitments.
They have refused to free all the political prisoners, and they have
refused to respect the truce. By many means-- essentially military--they
have tried to recover part of the liberated territory.

That then, is why battles are still being waged in South Vietnam. For,
naturally, the patriots reply energetically to every attempt made to snatch
territory from them and every attack from the puppet troops. [applause] The
patriots return blow for blow. In any event, what the Vietnamese have won
over these years is truly exceptional.

The situation for the imperialist is not only critical in South Vietnam,
but also in Laos, where a large part of the territory is liberated, and
where [interruption by applause] the imperialists also have had to conclude
peace treaties. And that situation is not limited to South Vietnam and
Laos, for it also exists in Cambodia, where a large part of the country
also has been liberated [interruption by applause], and where the puppet
regime is likewise in a veritable crisis.

And even in Thailand, which had been one of the main bases for Yankee
aggression in Indochina, the people's movement has cause positive changes
lately. [applause] The situation of Yankee imperialism had never been so
critical in the Indochinese zone as it is now, as a result of the
incomparably heroic struggle of the Vietnamese people and the other
Indochinese people. [applause]

And in the meantime, in our country, we were waging our revolution,
fighting against the CIA, against the imperialist agents, against the
bandits organized by imperialism in the Escambray, and against the
mercenary forces that disembarked at Giron Beach. [applause]

We all know what imperialism had in store for our fatherland. We all know
what would have happened in this country if the mercenaries had not been
defeated in less than 72 hours. [applause] We all know that a constituted
government was standing by waiting in Miami to transfer to Giron, and
immediately request the intervention of the OAS and the United States.
[Castro picks at his eye] That was a bug, a reactionary,
counterrevolutionary and imperialist one, which got in my eye, and we must
not let it bother us. [shout from the crowd: "From the Yankees"]

Our country would have been subjected to a terrible war of attrition, a
hard, trying struggle against the intruders. Our cities would have been
equally levelled and our people would have lost hundreds of thousands,
perhaps millions, of lives in that struggle. Later the aggressions of
different types continued-piratical attacks, sabotage--before and after the
October crisis.

As a result of the October crisis, the imperialists found themselves forced
to establish a commitment of not carrying out a direct attack against our
fatherland, although they reserved all other possible types of aggressions.
Above all, during the past few years they intensified the economic blockade
against our fatherland and all their political and diplomatic maneuvers
against Cuba, which they still maintain.

But, our struggle fortunately was not as severe, difficult or as bloody as
the Vietnamese struggle. We have witnessed during all these years the
heroism, sacrifices of the Vietnamese. Day after day we followed the
struggles, battles and victories of the South Vietnamese patriots. When the
war of destruction began against North Vietnam, day after day we followed
the heroism of the North Vietnamese people fighting against the Yankee air
force, which has the most modern equipment and numerous supplies of war
material. Day after day we followed the struggle of the Vietnamese people
against the Yankee flotillas, the blockade and the unending bombardment of
their coasts. And day after day, our admiration, our sympathy grew and with
that our solidarity with the Vietnamese people, [applause] which was
demonstrated in thousands of different ways. Nothing could produce as deep
an echo in the hearts of our people as the struggle of the Vietnamese

In our factories, schools, cities, countryside, mass organizations and
party, solidarity with Vietnam was expressed in different ways. There are
schools, work centers, many places that bear that glorious and heroic name.
Many of our workers' brigades bear the name of Vietnam or Ho Chi Minh
[applause]. But Vietnam has rendered extraordinary services to humanity.
And which one is the most important of them all? The great lesson that was
the struggle of the Vietnamese people for all combatants, for all oppressed
peoples of the world. Vietnam has been a practical education and has been a
great theoretical education.

When the October Revolution emerged victoriously [applause], a large part
of the world was under colonial domination, and it was necessary to apply
the principles of Marxism-Leninism to the conditions of the colonial and
dependent countries. And in that sense, the political idea of the
Vietnamese fighters was developed. Ho Chi Minh, loyal son of the working
class, knew how to specially apply those principles to the conditions of
Vietnam. [applause] The first thing he did to advance the independence
struggle was to create a Marxist-Leninist party to direct the struggle.

In 1930 he founded the Communist Party. But he genially understood that
under the conditions of colonial and dependent countries it was necessary
to combine the struggle for national liberation with the struggle for
social liberation. [applause] He realized that only the working
class--closely allied to he peasantry and all exploited sectors of the
people--could advance that struggle until its final consequences,
[applause] and that only the working class allied o the peasantry could
carry out that two-fold struggle for national independence and social
liberation; and, besides, [he realized] the need to unite the workers and
the peasants with all the other patriotic forces capable of fighting for
national independence and social justice.

This was an extraordinary contribution of Ho Chi Minh to the universal
revolutionary thought. [applause] History has fully proved him right. Only
under the direction of a Marxist-Leninist party, only under the direction
of the working class allied with the peasants, were the Vietnamese able to
defeat two imperialisms--French imperialism first, and Yankee imperialism
later. [applause]

It was only under such conditions that that heroic struggle could have been
waged over 30 years. And that explains the Vietnamese people's successes
and victories, and that is what the Yankee imperialist do not and do not
want to understand, though they will have to do so sooner or later.

A united people ,directed by a Marxist-Leninist party and possessing a
revolutionary theory, cannot be defeated. There was a merger in Vietnam of
those two great sentiments, those two great forces and those great
inspirations that have impelled the struggles of peoples in recent
times--the yearning for independence, nationally, and the yearning for
justice, socially. [applause]

Those two aspirations, those two feelings merged to make the Vietnamese
invincible. Their lie their stanchness, valor and extraordinary spirit for

Ho Chi Minh wrote those immortal words: "Nothing is more precious than
independence and freedom." [applause] And it was for that splendid goal
that the Vietnamese fought indefatigably over these years.

Ho Chi Minh pointed out the way, the strategy and the tactic. And he did
not overestimate the amount of arms the Vietnamese possessed; He knew they
had a party, their mass organizations, their patriotism, and he knew they
were right. Thus it was that in 1946, when the French imperialist again
completed their occupation of Vietnam, he stated: "Those who have neither a
rifle nor saber, take up shovels, hoes, and clubs, and everyone fight
against colonialism in defense of the fatherland." [rhythmic clapping and

And thus, a virtually unarmed people launched the struggle that 8 years
later was to climax with the very important victory of Dien Bien Phu, which
so frightened imperialism and so terrified the Yankees that they even
talked of using the atomic weapon to see how they saved the expeditionary
force that was encircled at Dien Bien Phu.

Ho Chi Minh's struggle was long, harsh, and splendid. He suffered much over
the sacrifices imperialism was foisting on his people and so many
casualties--the workers as well as soldiers, men, women, children, and
oldsters who perished in that struggle. [He suffered] over the tremendous
destruction caused on the Vietnamese people.

But Ho Chi Minh never quavered in exhorting the people to make any
sacrifice--all that were necessary--to save Vietnam's independence and
freedom. [applause] He never vacillated once. For he was a man who loved
his fatherland and his people, who fully trusted in his people. He was
certain of victory and the future. And this motivated his saying those
beautiful words: "As long as there are rivers and mountains, and as long as
there are men, once the Yankee aggressors are defeated, we shall build a
Vietnam that is 10 times more beautiful." [applause]

But Vietnam did not only leave the world an imperishable example, only a
political doctrine. It did not only enrich revolutionary thinking. For
Vietnam rendered other extraordinary services to humanity. Through its
heroic struggle, Vietnam defeated Yankee imperialism. Imperialism arrived
all-powerful, stubborn and haughty, considering itself superior to
everything and everybody.

But it left that country defeated, demoralized. Imperialism left that
country after having learned a lesson that it will never forget. With their
heroic struggle, the Vietnamese held down the imperialist claws. The
Vietnamese prevented them from committing new crimes in many other areas of
the world. Even we, the Cubans, were able to observe how, as the
imperialists sank up to their necks in the swamps in Vietnam, provocations,
crimes and acts of aggression against our fatherland decreased in
Guantanamo base. [applause]

This is why we can say that the Vietnamese fought not only for themselves,
they fought for all the people of the world, they fought for the cause of
humanity's liberation. They fought for the socialist and communist cause.

The men who died there, died for us too. Humanity will be eternally
grateful to Vietnam for this service. This is why we on the occasion of our
visit to Vietnam said that regardless of how much time goes by--a thousand
years may go by--humanity will remember the prowess of the Vietnamese
people. [applause]

Vietnam also demonstrated the present correlation of forces in the world,
the possibilities for liberation movements when they are supported--first
of all--by the dignity and patriotism of the people, and by international

The people helped Vietnam, especially the USSR [applause], providing it
with the military hardward that was decisive in the victory of the
Vietnamese people and also offering it important economic aid. Other
socialist countries also helped Vietnam according to their means. The
national liberation movement, the working class and progressive sectors of
the capitalist world and world public opinion--including the support of
millions of U.S. citizens who protested and even shed their blood
condemning the genocide in Vietnam--condemned the imperialist war and
crimes in Vietnam.

The struggle of the Vietnamese peoples shook the society in the land of
imperialism. The struggle of the Vietnamese awoke the conscience of the
people of the United States. The Vietnamese struggle has contributed more
than any other factor in recent years to unmask, to morally denude Yankee
imperialisms, to remove all the masks and disguises. Never in its history,
has the international prestige of Yankee imperialism been so low as in the
years during the war against Vietnam, a country in which it dropped
millions of bombs, a country where they did not respect anything at all.
There were many more bombs used than during World War II. The explosives
used against the Vietnamese people is the equivalent of hundreds of bombs
similar to the ones that the imperialists dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
at the end of World War II. This is why the spirit that was able to triumph
over such cruel aggression merits an analysis and the eternal recognition
of humanity.

Sometime ago we had the privilege of visiting the brotherly people of
Vietnam--the DRV and the area liberated by the South Vietnamese patriots.
The stoic and brave people-- always smiling and always ready to make the
most incredible sacrifices--stirs the admiration of any visitor. Those men
and women and children and old people who resisted Yankee cruelty, that
country that does not use automobiles, because it has not automobiles, that
country that hardly uses machinery to plow the land, because it does not
have any plowing equipment, that austere country, that virtuous country,
that deeply patriotic people truly awakens admiration and solidarity.

Whole regions lived underground for years because of the relentless bombing
of their villages and plantations. And despite all this the (?fight)
continued. The schools also operated underground. The factories also
operated underground. The hospitals also operated underground. And not only
factories, hospital and schools [applause] the soil was also cultivated and
food was produced despite the bombs dropped by the Yankee aircraft on the
rice fields, against the crops that required so much work for so long after
the end of the war. The imperialists bombed everything. They bombed the
workers in the fields, they bombed the laboring animals, they bombed the
dikes, they bombed all production centers, they bombed the few dairies in
Vietnam and we [words indistinct] because some of the cattle in the
shipments which we sent to Vietnam died as result of the bombings. They
bombed the insemination center, the agricultural centers, and roads; they
destroyed bridges, they attacked the boats and they bombed anything that
showed any sign of life.

Our doctors know how the hospitals were attacked, because our doctors had
to work there under the falling bombs and with the operating rooms falling
apart [applause]. That is why humanity does not and will never forget; does
not forgive and will never forgive the crimes committed by imperialism
against the Vietnamese people [applause]. But those people lived, resisted,
toiled and struggled and triumphed under those difficult circumstances.
[applause] That is why Vietnam deserves the solidarity, the confidence and
the support of all the revolutionaries of the world [applause]. That is why
the leadership of the party and the Government of Vietnam have the most
absolute and unconditional support of the party and the Revolutionary
Government of Cuba [rhythmic applause and slogans], because the party of
the Vietnamese workers is made up of and led by honest men, heroic men and
wise men because since the founding of the Vietnamese party they have been
able to lead the Vietnamese people intelligently and wisely in the struggle
and on to victory by using tactics and strategies that are truly faultless,
truly internationalist, truly Marxist-Leninist [applause]. We support their
policy with all our enthusiasm, [applause], their demand that imperialism
and its puppets comply with the commitments.

And that is why everywhere--within the United Nations, in the nonalined
countries, and in any court of the world, Cuba's voice will always be at
the side of the fraternal and heroic people of Vietnam [applause]. Once we
said: "For Vietnam we are willing to give our own blood." [Prolonged
applause] and which Cuban--patriotic and emotional--would not have been
willing to give up his blood for Vietnam? [shouts and applause] Let those
who would volunteer here to do anything for Vietnam raise their hand
[rhythmic chanting, shouts, applause] But generous Vietnam did not want
anybody else to shed their blood for it. [applause] Generous Vietnam was
determined that whatever flood had to be shed would be by its own children
and it was determined [applause] to pay whatever price was necessary by
itself. And it paid a high price in lives and in sacrifices for its
admirable struggle.

But today Vietnam is engaged in the task of reconstruction and if we were
willing to give our blood we should now be willing to give our sweat.
[applause and shouts] That is why our people will support with all their
strength the reconstruction of Vietnam. In the first place, we will
continue to offer the free economic cooperation which we have been
extending all these years to the Vietnamese people [applause] but aside
from that, and apart from different types of technical cooperation, five
bridges of Cuban workers with their equipment and construction materials
will work in Vietnam. [applause] In five different places: the construction
of a hotel, a hospital, building poultry centers, dairy farms, and a road.
There are already hundreds of Cubans in Vietnam engaged in this work, and
we are pleased to see here at this ceremony some of those Cubans who will
work in Vietnam. [Rhythmic applause] This group bears the glorious and
immortal name of Ho Chi Minh. [applause] We know that they will carry all
their energy and their know-how to the Vietnamese land, and they will work
heroically just as the Vietnamese struggled yesterday and work today.

And our cooperation with Vietnam will be totally free [applause] because it
is our most elementary duty and because it cannot be otherwise, because
Vietnam is a country ravaged by war. Vietnam can hardly have an export
surplus. Vietnam would have no way of paying for this economic cooperation
which it now needs. But we do not expect the Vietnamese to feel grateful to
us because of this, because it is we who must be grateful to Vietnam.

Vietnam must be rebuilt. Vietnam has an unselfish and hard-working people.
Vietnam has great hydroelectric resources and potential resources. It has
coal resources, it has mineral resources that can power metallurgical
development and petrochemical development. But aside from this, a great
part of the Vietnamese territory is still unexplored with regards to
geological resources. All the necessary conditions for the reconstruction
of Vietnam are present. And Vietnam must become a bulwark of socialism not
only in the political field and in the military field, but also in the
economic field for socialism in Southeast Asia. [prolonged applause] We
must build a Vietnam 10 times more beautiful than the one Ho Chi Minh
talked about. [applause]

Afterward, all of us, all the revolutionaries of the world, must thank the
people of Vietnam because they fought for us, for mankind, for all the
nations of the world. They gave us a supreme example of heroism. They
awakened our most profound solidarity. They stirred our patriotic,
revolutionary and internationalist sentiments. [applause] They spilled
their blood for us. Comrade Pham Van Dong, tell the people of Vietnam of
the Cuban people's fraternal, solidarity, profound and indestructible
sentiments. [applause]

This excited and enthusiastic crowd which is anxious to hear you, gives you
the floor. Long live proletarian internationalism! [crowd shouts viva] Long
live Vietnam! [viva] Long live the eternal solidarity between Vietnam and
Cuba! [crowd shouts viva] Long live the Vietnam Workers' Party! [crowd
shouts viva] Long live the immortal Ho Chi Minh! [crowd shouts viva] Long
live Comrade Le Duan, first secretary of the Workers' Party! [crowd shouts
viva] Long live Comrade Pham Van Dong! [crowd shouts viva] Fatherland or
death, we will win! [applause]