Friday, December 09, 2011

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Ambrosio R. Villorente

The Victory of Vietnam

One place I visited in Vietnam is Cu Chi Tunnels situated North of Ho Chi Minh City in Hau Nghia province. After seeing the tunnels, I got the idea of courageous, tenacious, patient, brave, loving and loyal the Vietnamese are to their country.

The tunnels were originally dug in 1940s when the Vietnams were fighting French colonialism, as hiding places for the guerrillas and bomb shelters for the village people. When the war with the Americans started in 1960’s, the Viet Cong dug more tunnels. They linked them together from one village to another that it reached 250 kilometers long if stretched. There were street signs placed in the tunnels so guerrillas from other parts of Vietnam could find their way.

In 1966, the American Army constructed their military base in Cu Chi. This enabled the Viet Cong living in the tunnels to pick off American soldiers, dove back into the tunnels, the trap doors hidden by leaves. Some snipers surfaced inside the barbed wire of the American base, stabbed US soldiers.

The tunnels were deep, narrow about five feet in diameter that even if American soldiers have to crawl. Only few dared to enter the tunnel who were stabbed in the dark with a knife. A soldier has only one chance to fire a gun; the sound of it set the man temporarily deaf and stunned.

Off the passages, the guerrillas built larger rooms for sleeping, cooking, meeting, and storage. They dug daily. The Vietnamese of all ages and gender constructed the tunnels. Old men made baskets for carrying soil, old women did the cooking, young men and women dug the soil. The children gathered leaves to cover the trap door.

Le Van Nong, a guerrilla related the tunnels were very hot. They always sweat. They went out of the tunnel to cook rice in the evening to be eaten next day. If they got no time to cook, they went hungry the next day. It was not possible to cook in the tunnel.
As the war continued, the guerrillas ate food, left around by troops on patrol like canned rations, meat and chocolates eaten cold without cooking.

They also depended upon the American soldiers for weapons.

In 1966, one battalion of US soldiers fired 180,000 artillery shells in one month, fired a trillion bullets, 10 million mortars and 4.8 million rockets.

Those which did not explode were taken into the tunnels, sawed gently through the shell casing and used the explosives to make new mines. The used Coke cans the US soldiers left are made into grenades.

There were poems written for propaganda materials distributed to promote and sustain morals, courage and support to the guerrillas like poems and songs. There were entertainment like songs, dances, and dramas for the guerrillas in the tunnels.

A line of a lyric of a song states: "We are Cu Chi people who go forward to kill the enemy. Our country is a fortress standing against the Americans.

Cu Ch is a "heroic land". A guerrilla surgeon Dr. Vo Hoang Le treated his patients, the wounded in the tunnel, most of them died because there was no medicine.

The women in the tunnels got no rags for menstruation. They were ashamed of their smell. They went above ground at night to wash their clothes and to bathe. Inspire of their mega hardships and extreme sacrifices, the Vietnamese persisted and prevailed.

Tet Offensive

The Viet Cong Tet offensive in 1968 revealed the truth to the world which the American government had been keeping from the Americans.

On Tet, the North Vietnamese Army with the guerrillas assaulted Saigon with Cu Chi tunnels as their base. What happened in Saigon was widely projected to the world via TV, radio, and newspaper. There were fighting in the Hue, Ben Tre and other cities of Vietnam. The Tet 1968 offensive revealed the truth of the Vietnam War the American people did not know.

The Tet 1968 offensive generated world protest against the American bombings and shooting in Vietnam. The Buddhist Monks organized protest. Even if the Viet Cong were badly annihilated, they were winning the sympathy and admiration of the world including the American public. Why did the US soldiers killed the people who did nothing against them. Women were raped, tortured and killed. Minors were killed, Vietnamese of all ages were killed. The country was heavily bombed and destroyed. Remember the Mai Lai Massacre? That was investigated but only one colonel of the military was found guilty and put in jail for a few weeks.


So there were protests done against the Vietnam War. There were protests held in US universities by the faculty and students like in the University of Michigan, California, New York and many other state universities by the hundreds of thousand participants. There were protests against the "draft". Mohamad Ali refused a draft even his world title in boxing were removed. He was banned from boxing. The black people protested the draft which included the human rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Presiden Lyndon Johnson succumbed to the pleasure. He refused General Westmoreland’s request for additional 206,000 troops for Vietnam.

Even some soldiers and World War veterans protested against the war in Vietnam. Some soldiers deserted, came went absent without leave.

In 1970, they come open against the war", came together for a festival of political speeches and rock music. About 206,000 people refused the draft as recorded.

In 1970, the GIs stopped fighting. The Pentagon went desperate. The morale, discipline and battle worthiness of the US Armed forces went lower and worse. Some US Navy personnel sent a petition to the US Congress saying: "there is nothing we can do about putting an end to the Vietnam Conflict". Some 1000 personnel signed the petition. There were sabotage made like what was done to aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.

In 1972, there were demonstrations against the US presence in Vietnam held in US bases in Japan, Germany, Thailand, and Guam.

In view of the pressure to stop the war in Vietnam, the Washington DC government signed a peace deal in Paris, France. The White House agreed to withdraw all US soldiers from Vietnam and to give North Vietnamese massive aid – US$ 5 billion. The last American troops left Vietnam in 1973.

On March 24, 1975 the victorious army, on a hand made cardboard sign along the road were jubilant with their "Victory Without Bloodshed".

Three movements have defeated the United States in a 20 years war. They are American ruling class, American Peace Movement, the GI’s revolts and the guerrillas.

The Vietnam is a history of horror, of rape and atrocity. It is "a story of unimaginable, endless courage of what brave men, women and children are capable of when they fought for a fair share of their labor and a world run by decency". /MP

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