The Guardian March 5, 2003

Castro in Vietnam

Cuban President Fidel Castro Ruz ended a successful three-day tour of 
Vietnam with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and a speech to 1000 
cheering students at the Hanoi University of Technology.

Speaking of the 1975 victory of the Vietnamese people over US aggression, 
Castro said. "No words can describe the efforts and sacrifices of the 
Vietnamese people".

"You showed the world you could defeat the brainless who came from more 
than 20,000 kilometres away to invade your country.

"You have shown to the world that oppressed nations can oppose 
[invaders] and win and defend their legitimate cause."

Castro notes that US aggression does not end with the victory of the 

"Our country has been suffering consequences of the sabotage for many 
years. We are very close to a superpower, only 90 miles away, compared to 
20,000 kilometres away", he said. "You, friends, could imagine the dangers 
to us."

However, Castro also remarked that US embargoes on the two countries had 
played a positive role in their development.

''It should be admitted that our enemy has played a role in our 
achievements. It posed challenges to us which we were forced to overcome. 
Every time we overcome one, we grew and developed better", Castro said.

The Cuban delegation then visited the industrial area of Saidon-Hanel for a 
tour of the Orion-Hanel electronics factory, currently producing one 
million computers annually.

The factory's workers participated in a rally, and after some words of 
welcome, Fidel expressed his thanks for a donation of 500 computers to 
Cuba, most of which are destined for improving the public health system.

The Vietnamese press was equally effusive about the relationship between 
the two countries.

Nhan Dan, The Communist Party daily newspaper, said in an editorial:

"The image of Cuba, the image of Fidel has become very near and dear to 
every Vietnamese person. Fidel is the symbol of an undaunted revolutionary 
combatant fighting for independence, freedom and human dignity.

"President Fidel's 1973 visit to Vietnam happened when the anti-US struggle 
for national salvation was entering a crucial stage.

"And Cuba was one of the countries which took the lead in the world 
people's movement to support and unite with the Vietnamese people to fight 
and defend national independence, freedom and construction.

"After the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and the eastern 
European socialist countries, the hostile forces have tightened their 
embargo in an attempt to interfere, sabotage and wipe out the socialist 
society in Cuba.

"In this difficult situation, by bringing into full play the mettle of a 
heroic nation, the Party, State and people of Cuba have pooled their 
efforts to together overcome all difficulties and shortages to find out the 
solutions to develop the society and economy in conformity with their own 
conditions on the socialist principle.

"By promoting the superiority of the socialist system, the Party and State 
of Cuba, by all ways and means, have maintained the free educational and 
medical system, subsidised the people in difficulties in the spirit that 
'nobody is left roaming in the street to earn their living'."

Castro departed Vietnam to represent Cuba at the Non-Aligned Movement 
Conference in Kuala Lumpur, of which he will take up the rotating 
Presidency next year.

He will complete his tour of Asia with a four-day visit to China.

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