Then First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and Prime Minister Fidel Castro was the first foreign leader to visit the liberated zone in southern Vietnam, despite geographical distance and the dangers of the war at that time.

Journalist Nguyen Duy Cuong, Permanent Vice President of the Vietnam-Cuba Friendship Association, said the Cuban leader’s trip helped encourage the Vietnamese military and people during the resistance war against the US imperialists, towards the victory on April 30, 1975.

Cuong, who had studied and worked in Cuba for more than 15 years and once met Fidel, noted that through the visit, the Cuban leader sent a message of solidarity with Vietnam to the world, and that Cuba became the pioneer in this regard.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s visit to the newly-liberated region in Central Quang Tri province in mid-September 1973 has become a symbol of fraternity between Vietnam and Cuba.

Fidel always had special sentiments to Vietnam and backed Vietnam’s just cause, he said, citing Fidel’s words “For Vietnam, Cuba is willing to shed its blood.”

Cuba’s support for Vietnam has also been reflected through socio-economic establishments such as Thang Loi Hotel in Hanoi, the 50-km Son Tay-Xuan Mai road, Moc Chau Dairy Farm in the Northern mountainous province of Son La, a chicken farm in the northern mountainous province of Hoa Binh and Dong Hoi Hospital in central Quang Binh province.

Between 1961 and 1975, Cuba presented about 50,000 tons of sugar to Vietnam each year and sent doctors to the country to care for war invalids and sick soldiers, Cuong said.

Nearly 1 million Vietnamese students who studied in Cuba during the period have contributed significantly to national construction and defense after returning home, he added.

Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Viet Thao, Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and President of the Vietnam-Cuba Friendship Association of Hanoi, said bilateral cooperation has expanded in various areas, ranging from agriculture to industry, construction, trade, investment, culture, education and science-technology.

He said the development of Vietnam-Cuba ties has helped protect and develop socialism in the two countries over the years.

The time-tested relationship is the pride of the Vietnamese and Cuban people, Thao said.

Echoing Thao’s views, Cuban Ambassador to Vietnam Lianys Torres Rivera said Cuban leader Fidel Castro and President Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam represent the fraternity between the two peoples, and their spirit has been carried forward by the two countries.

Vietnam and Cuba should reinforce their friendship, she suggested, highlighting Cuba’s efforts to enhance economic, trade and investment ties as well as medical cooperation with Vietnam.

To promote the bilateral solidarity, Cuong also stressed the need to intensify communication work to raise public awareness, especially among youngsters, about the long-standing relations.

Source: VNA