Argentine president Cristina Fernandez ended on Sunday in Hanoi her visit to Vietnam the last leg of a week-long business and political trip that took her to the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and finally the land which she emphasized represented an icon for her generation.
In Hanoi the Argentine president met with head of state Truong Tan Sang to discuss possible agreements on biotechnology, agriculture and nuclear energy as well as to celebrate the forty years of diplomatic relations between the two countries which started in 2013.
“The visit has a special significance because we are celebrating the 40 years of relations between our countries”, said Cristina Fernandez adding the will contribute “to give greater density to our official and economic exchange”.
The Argentine president emphasized it was an honour for her and her delegation to be in the country “which is an icon of the struggles of our generation”. Likewise “we’re happy because Argentina was the third Latin American country after Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Salvador Allende’s Chile to recognize unified Vietnam”
Before entering the presidential palace Cristina Fernandez visited the monument to the national heroes and martyrs which remembers the fallen in the liberation wars against France and United States and the mausoleum which holds the remains of the country’s leader Ho Chin Minh.
In 1973, Argentina was temporarily ruled by an envoy of Juan Peron at the time still in Spain, Hector Campora who represented the left wing of the Peronist movement and was supported by the militant youth groups and guerrillas. On the return of Peron as president with his conservative advisors, the situation rapidly deteriorated and most youth groups went back underground this time to fight against the elected government.
It was during Campora’s time that Argentina in 1973 recognized a united Vietnam when the US was still heavily involved in the war. The youth group which works (with government funds) under the leadership of Cristina’s son, Maximo is named ‘Campora’ in honour to that brief spell of the radical left.
Vietnamese president Truong Tan Sang underlined that the presence of her Argentine visitor represented “a fundamental thrust for bilateral relations and the future of our countries” and praised the work of Cristina Fernandez as the leader of the Argentine people. “I bode you continue with your people’s conquests and the role Argentina will have in the region as in the world”.
The Argentine president later met with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and with the president of the National Assembly, Nguyen Sin Hung.
Before flying to Hanoi Cristina Fernandez spent time a the city of Ho Chi Mingh (former capital of South Vietnam, Saigon) where she visited the Cu Chi tunnels used by the army of North Vietnam and the Viet Cong guerrilla to fight the French and the US troops.
The Cu Chin tunnels are a symbol of Vietnamese unification and victory over France and the US.
Meeting with Le Hoang Quan, head of the Ho Chi Mingh region People’s Committee and a war veteran, Cristina Fernandez expressed her admiration for the “wonderful struggle of the Vietnamese people in search of their independence” adding that following unification “today you are an example of participation at world level and of defence of world peace”.
She recalled that when the fall of Saigon in April 1975, “I was working and a fellow came in to tell us Saigon had fallen, which was so important for our generation”, but she also admitted with a smile “I now see how time has passed”.
However her host was quick and replied “don’t worry, the day you remember I was fighting and when we finally achieved reunification I went as governor to a province close to Ho Chin Minh, so that is why we can say that time passes quickly for both of us”.
Le Hoang Quan pointed out that “Argentina’s and Latinamerica’s support for the people of Vietnam was always fundamental, which helped us integrate to the world and now to the economic development of our country”.
The Vietnamese leader then invited the Argentine delegation to visit the Reunification Palace and Museum, which holds historic documents and assets of when the palace was the official resident of the South Vietnamese president.
Quan admitted to have participated as a guerrilla in several attacks against the palace and the US embassy and was present when the North Vietnamese tanks broke into the palace grounds thus marking the end of the war and reunification of Vietnam under the leadership of Hanoi.