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Unforgettable memories

By Fidel Castro Ruz
Hardly three days ago we were visited by a high-ranking leader of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Before leaving, he told me he wanted me to write something about my memories of my visit to the liberated territory of Vietnam during its heroic struggle against the Yankee troops in the southern region of that country.

In fact, I do not have much time for that at this moment, when much of the world is set to look for an answer to the news announcing that a war, with the use of lethal weapons, is about to break out in a critical corner of our globalized planet. However, recalling the past and the monstrous crimes committed against the least economically and scientifically developed countries will help all peoples to struggle for their own survival.

September 12 marks the fortieth anniversary of the visit paid by an official delegation of Cuba to Vietnam. In a Reflection that I wrote on February 14, 2008, I published some data about John McCain, the Republican candidate to the presidency of the United States, who was humiliatingly defeated during his campaign by Barack Obama. The latter could at least speak in terms that were similar to those used by Martin Luther King, who was vilely murdered by the white racists.

Obama had even set out to imitate the train ride of the austere Abraham Lincoln, even though he would have never been able to deliver the Gettysburg speech. Michael Moore blurted out at him: "Congratulations, President Obama, for having won the Nobel Peace Prize; now, please, earn it".

McCain lost the presidency of the United States, but he managed to come back to the Senate, from where he is exerting huge pressures on the government of that country. Now he feels happy; he is mobilizing his forces so that Obama would launch the biggest possible number of well-aimed missiles, capable of accurately dealing a blow to the most representative Syrian troops.

Sarin nerve gas is as lethal as atomic radiations. There are already nine countries whose nuclear weapons are far more lethal than Sarin nerve gas. According to some data published since 2012, Russia has approximately 16 000 active nuclear warheads and the United States have approximately 8 000. The urge to detonate them in a matter of minutes against the enemy targets makes it necessary to establish a procedure to use them.

China, a third power, the country with the soundest economy, has already acquired the capability for Mutual Assured Destruction with the United States.

Israel, for one, is ahead of France and Great Britain when it comes to nuclear technology, but will not allow that a single word is said about the fabulous funds it receives from the United States or its collaboration with that country in that field. A few days ago it launched two missiles to test the responsiveness of the US destroyers that are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea aiming at Syria.

Then, how much power does this small and advanced group of countries have?

In order to extract the enormous energy enclosed in a hydrogen nucleus it is necessary to create a gas plasma at a temperature of over 200 million Centigrade degrees, which is the amount of heat required to force the fusion of deuterium and tritium atoms and the release of energy, as explained in a report published by the BBC, which is usually a well informed agency on the subject. This is already a scientific discovery but, how much will it be necessary to invest to materialize these goals? Our long-suffering humanity is still waiting. We are no longer 'a handful of people'; we are already more than seven billion human beings, the overwhelming majority of them being children, adolescents and youths.

Going back to the memories of my visit to Vietnam, which encouraged me to write these lines, I did not have the privilege to meet Ho Chi Minh, the legendary founder of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the country of the Annamites, as was described in glowing terms by our National Hero, José Marti, in his children's magazine "The Golden Age", back in 1889.

On the first day of my visit to that sister nation in 1973, I was accommodated at the residence that belonged to the former French Governor of the Indochina territory. I had arrived in that country on September 12, after an agreement was reached between the United States and Vietnam. Pham Van Dong, the then Prime Minister, decided to accommodate me there.

That sturdy combatant, when he was alone with me in that old big house that had been built by the French metropolis, started to cry. 'Excuse me', he said to me, 'but I am thinking about the millions of youths who have died in this struggle'. At that moment I was able to fully perceive how hard that struggle had been. He was also complaining of the deceptions resorted to by the United States against them.

I will very briefly summarize the exact words I used in the aforementioned Reflection of February 14, 2008, which I wrote as soon as I was able to: "All the bridges along the road, without exception, between Hanoi and the South, visible from the air, were destroyed; the villages razed, and every day the cluster bomb grenades dropped for that purpose, were blowing up in the rice paddies where children, women and even very old people were working to produce food.

"A great number of craters could be seen in each one of the entrances to the bridges. At that time there were no laser guided bombs, much more precise. I had to insist on making that trip. The Vietnamese were afraid that I would be the victim of some Yankee plot if they learned of my presence in that area. Pham Van Dong accompanied me at all times.

"We flew over Nghe-An Province where Ho Chi Minh was born. In that province, as well as in Ha Tinh, two million Vietnamese starved to death in 1945, the last year of World War II. We landed in Dong Hoi. A million bombs were dropped over the province where that destroyed city lies. We crossed the Nhat Le on a raft. We visited an assistance center for the wounded of Quang Tri. We saw numerous captured M-48 tanks. We took wooden roads over what was once the National Highway that had been destroyed by bombs. We got together with young Vietnamese soldiers who covered themselves with glory at the Battle of Quang Tri. Calm, resolute, seasoned by the sun and the war, a slight tic quivered the eyelid of the battalion captain. No one knows how they could have stood up to so much bombing. They were worthy of praise. On that same afternoon on September 15, returning by a different route, we picked up three wounded children, two of which were in very serious condition;

a 14 year old girl was in a state of shock with a metal fragment in her abdomen. The children were working in the fields when one of their tools accidentally touched a grenade. The Cuban doctors accompanying the delegation cared for them directly for hours and saved their lives. I was a witness, Mr. McCain, to the heroic deeds of the bombing raids on North Vietnam, the same ones you are so proud of.

"During those days in September, Allende had been overthrown; the Presidential palace was attacked and many Chileans were tortured and murdered. The coup was promoted and organized from Washington."

Lino Luben Pérez, a journalist of AIN, included in an Article he published on December 1, 2010, a phrase I had said on January 2, 1966, during the ceremony to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Revolution: "to Vietnam we are ready to give not only our sugar, but also our blood, which is worth much more than our sugar!" Further on in the same article, the AIN journalist wrote: "For years, thousands of Vietnamese youths studied different specialties in Cuba, including the Spanish and English languages, while a considerable number of Cubans learned to speak their language in that country.

"Cuban vessels loaded with sugar docked at the Haiphong port, located to the North, a region that had been bombed by the Yankees, and hundreds of technicians worked in that country as construction workers during the war." "Other compatriots developed poultry farms for the production of meat and eggs."

"The docking of the first merchant ship of that nation in a Cuban port became a transcendental event. Today, business and State economic cooperation and the political understanding between both parties as well as their friendly relations are maintained and multiplied."

I apologize for the modest effort I have made to write these paragraphs in the name of our traditional friendship with Vietnam. This morning, the risk that a conflict could break out, with all its nefarious consequences, seems to have diminished thanks to the intelligent initiative promoted by Russia, which stood firm in the face of the unprecedented intentions of the US government, which threatens to launch a demolishing attack against the Syrian defense forces, thus taking a toll on thousands of lives in that country and unleashing a conflict of unpredictable consequences.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Serguei Lavrov, spoke on behalf of the government of that courageous country, and he might possibly contribute to avoid, for the time being, a global catastrophe. The US people, on its part, are strongly opposed to a political adventure that would affect not only its country, but humanity as a whole.





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