Having arrived at international airport José Martí in La Habana, General Álvaro López Miera, Politburo member, Chief of the General Staff, and First Deputy Minister of the Cuban Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, was already present to welcome the Vietnamese high-raking political officers with hearty handshakes and tight hugs. Cuban friends greeted us: “It’s our pleasure to welcome our brothers”. General Cuong, on behalf of the delegation, replied: “We visit Cuba like our own home.”

The dear sentiment of the Cuban friends were more clearly shown during the talks between the Vietnamese head delegate and General Álvaro López Miera as well as on the Vietnamese officers’ visits to some Cuban military units. Generals Cuong and Álvaro López Miera exchanged heartfelt sentiment and heartily shared issues of mutual concern, especially the building of a politically-, ideologically-, and organizationally-strong military, the enhancement of absolute and direct leadership of the Party, and the building of the army as a loyal and reliable political and combat force of the Party, State, and people.

Senior Lieutenant General Luong Cuong visits families of fallen Cuban soldiers and veterans who joined the Vietnam War.

The two defense leaders affirmed that the two militaries are willing to cooperate and help each other in the spirit of trust, impartiality, and faithfulness.

The Cuba visit of the high-ranking political officers of the Vietnam People's Army took place after the exchange of visits of the two countries’ senior leaders in 2018 and in the time when the two countries were marking different important events, including 45 years since Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the first and only foreign leader visited the liberated zone in central Vietnam in 1973 and two years since his death. For these reasons, at meetings, working sessions, and exchanges, memories about friendship, faithful and pure solidarity between the two countries and militaries came flooding back. They also expressed their respect and deep gratitude to former Presidents Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh.

Major General Jorge Luis Mendez, Director of the Political Department of the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, was touched when talking about the decease of Fidel Castro - the outstanding leader of the Cuban revolution, a great friend and faithful comrade and brother of Vietnam, and a symbol of the Vietnam-Cuba relations.

During the days in the beautiful and hospitable country, Cuban friends often recalled Fidel's immortal statement in 1966: “For Vietnam, Cuba is willing to shed its blood.”

One of the most significant activities during the visit was the Vietnamese high-ranking officers' meeting with families of Cuban fallen soldiers and veterans who had contributed to Vietnam’s struggle for national independence. As old brothers met again, both the hosts and the guests could not hide their happiness and strong feelings. 

Esteban González Hernández, a Cuban veteran recalled the time when he and his comrades came to Vietnam in 1967 to fight and learn Vietnam’s war-fighting experiences. The former soldier mentioned his book about his most memorable days in Vietnam and said, “I admire the indomitable spirit and efforts of heroic Vietnamese people and People’s Army in fighting and in reconstructing and developing the country after the war.”

“We came to Vietnam not only to help Vietnam in its just war against foreign invaders, but also to learn how to fight foreign invaders and how the Vietnamese love peace” said veteran Juan Pérez Migollo.

Holding a joint photo of him and his Vietnamese troops and people, Juan Pérez Migollo expressed his wishes to know more about these old Vietnamese friends, who shared the same combat trench with him in wartime. He wished to have a chance to see them again. 

Before the Vietnamese delegation concluded its visit to Cuba, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba Raúl Castro Ruz hosted a reception for Senior Lieutenant General Luong Cuong and his entourage. Giving each member of the delegation firm handshakes, the Cuban leader thanked the Vietnamese Party, State, Government, and people for their valuable supports to Cuba and highlighted the two countries’ cooperation, including defense relations over the past time. Bidding farewell to the Vietnamese friends, Raúl Castro Ruz said: “Vietnamese brothers had to travel a long-distance to Cuba, but we did not have much time together.”

What we had seen with our own eyes during the visit confirmed General Cuong’s statement and aspiration of leaders and people of the two countries that the model, faithful, and pure solidarity of Vietnam and Cuba has been tested through time. The relations is a valuable asset preserved and promoted by generations of leaders and people of the two countries.

Translated by Tran Hoai