Cuban journalist and her memory being "interviewed" by President Ho Chi Minh

“I will never forget the time I met Uncle Ho at the end of July 1969. I came with the purpose of interviewing Uncle Ho, but in the end, Uncle Ho took the initiative to ‘interview’ me first. He said, ‘Come on, let's talk.’"

As the first Cuban and Latin American war correspondent in the Vietnamese people's war of resistance against the US, Marta Rojas witnessed with her own eyes from the fierce bombing raids by the US Air Force that devastated North Vietnam to the brave and cunning fights of Cu Chi guerrillas in the Southern region, and especially she was the last foreign journalist to interview President Ho Chi Minh.

Cuban journalist Marta Rojas (Photo: VNA)

Marta Rojas once shared with the press:

“Every time I was in Hanoi, I visited the Nhan Dan newspaper and told journalist Hoang Tung, Editor-in-chief of the Nhan Dan newspaper at that time, that I wanted to have an interview with President Ho Chi Minh. One evening, I was staying at Thong Nhat Hotel in Hanoi, journalist Hoang Tung called me and said: ‘I'll come over at 6 am to pick you up for an interview with President Ho Chi Minh.’”

At 7 o'clock in the morning of a day in July 1969, Ms. Marta Rojas, journalist Hoang Tung and an interpreter entered the Presidential Palace. Uncle Ho wore simple light-colored clothes and went to the door to welcome Marta Rojas. A very surprising thing was that Uncle Ho took the initiative to greet Marta Rojas first in Spanish, then he happily asked about Marta Rojas' health, and asked about President Fidel's health also in Spanish.

"The first impression when I met Uncle Ho was that he was a great man, but very simple and polite. On that day, he wore a pair of sandals. I felt him as a sage, a scholar and a true revolutionary. I came with the purpose of interviewing Uncle Ho, but in the end he was the one who took the initiative to ‘interview’ me first. He said: ‘Come on, let's talk together.’”

He asked me about my feelings when witnessing firsthand the life and fighting of the soldiers, then asked about the situation of the people in the places I have passed since my first trip in 1965, especially during the time in Tay Ninh province. He spent a whole session talking to me and most of the time he asked me questions."

Marta Rojas asked Uncle Ho: "On what basis does the President fully believe in victory over a powerful technical enemy, who is trying to destroy Vietnamese villages with bombs and bullets all day long?" President Ho Chi Minh said: I believe in the strength and greatness of the Vietnamese people and the strong solidarity and support of the people in the world, including the fraternal Cuban people. Every time the Cuban people from the other side of the globe organize rallies and demonstrations to show solidarity with the struggle of the Vietnamese people, that encourages us a lot, and especially President Fidel Castro's speech made us extremely grateful. In the resistance war against the US to save the country, we will still face many difficulties and hardships, but we will definitely win”.

Journalist Marta Rojas once shared: By far, President Ho Chi Minh's greatest question to me at that time was how did journalists view the flags of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in South Vietnam. I answered him: In the South, regardless of rain or sun, the flag of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam is always like new.'"

After that, Uncle Ho explained what journalist Marta Rojas felt about the flag that the journalist could not forget: It was "because the goal of the struggle of all classes of Vietnamese people is to protect the flag in the right position! It's the symbol of Vietnam! We will definitely win against the US! All the suffering and pain of the people in the South is also my suffering and pain!"

In addition to the impression of his extensive knowledge of many fields, journalist Marta Rojas also admired President Ho Chi Minh’s tolerance and generosity in the interview in Hanoi that year.

Marta Rojas' interview was later published in the Granma, and many Cuban readers wrote to the newspaper asking for more information about President Ho Chi Minh. That interview reached not only Cuban readers, but also a number of other Latin American countries. The Communist Party of Italy and Sweden also republished the article in their newspapers, and some US states also published this article.

Marta Rojas shared that whenever she returned to Hanoi, she still vividly remembered President Ho Chi Minh's words: "The suffering of the Vietnamese people during the resistance war against the US was also his heartache."


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