Cuba is celebrating 50 years since the 1968 Tet Offensive – the coordinated attack by the North Vietnamese People's Army that marked the beginning of the end of U.S. intervention in the Southeast Asian nation.
Vietnamese Ambassador to Cuba Nguyen Trung Thanh spoke at the event, held at the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) in Havana, saying the offensive was a triumph supported by the Cuban people and government.
"The Vietnamese people always received the unconditional support of the peoples of the world, especially the brotherly Cuban people," said the diplomat. "We will always remember that phrase of the beloved leader Fidel Castro: 'For Vietnam, Cuba is willing to give our own blood.'"
In 1963, the Committee of Solidarity with South Vietnam was founded in Cuba. "Cuba was one of the first countries to recognize the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam," opening an embassy and appointing an ambassador on the island, Thanh said.
ICAP President Fernando Gonzalez said the Tet Offensive "put world public opinion against the war with our Vietnamese brothers demonstrating their greatness on the battlefield."
The 1968 offensive, named after the Lunar New Year celebrated on Jan. 30, was one of biggest military attacks launched by the communist North Vietnamese People's Army against the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam, U.S. forces, and their allies.
Washington was shocked by the attack and officials reportedly said “communists just won’t quit” after the surprise operation.
More than 80,000 northern soldiers and Viet Cong fighters took part in the attacks, which intensified the anti-war movement in the United States, prompting the United States to eventually pull out of the war a few years later.
The Vietnam War, known as the American War among Vietnamese people, killed an estimated 2.5 million northern fighters and 58,000 U.S. servicemen, along with some three million civilians.