Relations between Cuba yand Vietnam have always been special. In 1966, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz visited the Asian country and met Ho Chi Minh. Photo: Archive

Vietnam’s victory, beyond the stampede of Yankee personnel leaving their bases and the embassy, facing the elements under the blades of their helicopters, in the face of the desperate collapse in April of 1975, left us images that have gone down in history, epitomizing the imperial fiasco - but it was much more.

This victory has grown with the rapid, surprising positioning of Vietnam among Southeast Asian countries, and others around the world, as an emerging economy with impressive social and cultural development.

The reunified Socialist Republic of Vietnam was a great blow to U.S. imperialism and the world's reactionary forces intent upon crushing the heroic people and their state.

It is the dream come true of a revolutionary whose ideas were tenaciously maintained - regardless of the sacrifice - over more than 30 years, well after the death of their leader Ho Chi Minh, whose confidence in victory he made clear in his Political Testament, in this way:

"Whatever the difficulties and hardships, our people will achieve full victory. The U.S. imperialists will have to leave our country. The homeland will be reunified. Our compatriots in the South and the North will reunite with security under the same roof." The words of Uncle Ho - as the people affectionately called him - written three months before his death, became law for the people.

Throughout his combative life, he was accused of being utopian. He himself wrote once, "A superficial observer, describing the beginnings of our national liberation troops, described it as a children's game, or the invention of some utopians… who armed with a few rifles and a dozen machetes, dared to call ourselves 'forces' and take the lead in liberating the nation."

In his call for national resistance, December 20, 1946, the founder of the first Marxist-Leninist party in Indochina insisted on initiating the battle against colonialism, with whatever means available, saying, "Whoever has a rifle, use that rifle. Whoever has a sword, use that sword. And if you don't have a sword, use a hoe or a shovel." The struggle would later become one against U.S. imperialism.

Today independent and unified, Vietnam's is one of the most solid victorious revolutions in contemporary human history, both theoretically and practically.

During the anti-imperialist stage of the struggle, against the United States, Vietnam put into action a strategy known as "the three points of the spear" - the armed struggle, the political struggle, and infiltration of enemy forces. Close to victory, a fourth point was added: the diplomatic struggle.

So it went with the peace talks in Paris, where a Vietnamese woman from the South - Nguyen Thi Binh, the provisional government's foreign minister - launched an unprecedented, and victorious, diplomatic battle in the French capital - one that could not be ignored.

It was an irreversible fact that before long the U.S. would be fleeing Vietnam in terror, and within that country itself, the invaders' former soldiers were demanding peace. Some of them traveled to Europe and denounced the crimes committed by the U.S. Army and Air Force in Vietnam, during impressive sessions of the

Russell Tribunal, in Sweden and Denmark.

The U.S. was mistaken in thinking that they could weaken a Vietnamese nation prepared by its founder to endure the hardest, most prolonged sacrifices. When the numbers of enemy attacks are considered, the measure of the Vietnamese people's valor and wisdom is evident. B52 bombers dropped 1,600 000 tons of explosives on the country. The South was invaded by 540,000 U.S. soldiers, supported by a million puppet troops armed by the U.S. government.

But Ho Chi Minh had convinced his hard-working, modest, tenacious people that, "nothing is more precious that independence and freedom."

The extraordinary courage of the Vietnamese and the wise leadership of Ho Chi Minh won solidarity in practically all corners of the planet. Cubans, led by Fidel, were pioneers in organizing solidarity activities. The Vietnamese appreciated a phrase always heard in the forums, summarizing the strong solidarity expressed many times by our Comandante en Jefe during the most difficult times in the Vietnamese struggle: "For Vietnam we are ready to shed our own blood." He had confidence in all of Vietnam's strategies, including the diplomatic one, even at times when many thought the country could not conduct talks and win.

Until the last days of his life, Ho Chi Minh answered those who did not believe in the victory or Vietnam's future, saying that the country would be ten or 100 times more beautiful in the future - a reality today. As if that were not enough, he would insist, "Today the grasshopper is facing the elephant; but tomorrow, the elephant will be gutted by the grasshopper."

This has happened, and they once called him utopian.

It is an immense honor for Cubans that José Martí noted the characteristics of this people for children in La Edad de Oro, where he published his article "A trip around the Land of the Annamites."

He wrote, "Just like the bravest, they also fought and fought again, the poor Annamites, those who live on fish and rice, and dress in silk, far away in Asia, by the side of the sea, below China."

Thus, when I interviewed Ho Chi Minh in his silk pajamas, just three months before his death, to greet me he extended his hand cordially, and asked in perfect Spanish, "How is Fidel? I always read his speeches, and I like them very much."