News24

Cuba's Vietnam War secret out

2005-05-02 22:31

Havana - Cuba has disclosed that its military engineers took part in the widening of the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail in the midst of Vietnam's war with the United States, according to an interview with a Cuban participant in the official paper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth).

Retired Cuban colonel Roberto Leon opened up about an episode touted as "one of the greatest secrets" of the 1965-1975 war, when he led a team of 23 Cuban military engineers and about 50 Vietnamese nationals in work on the trail over seven months.

He said the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a network of roads and tunnels stretching thousands of kilometers largely through jungle, "enabled the advance to the south of Vietnamese troops in their fight for reunification of the country" thanks in part to help from Cuba starting in 1973.

Leon said that construction on the trail started in 1959 and lasted 15 years, but that it was in September 1973, during Cuban President Fidel Castro's visit, that authorities asked him for technical help on expanding the network.

A group of 43 Vietnamese nationals arrived in Cuba in November of that year as a result of the deal and, after training in Cuban military construction techniques, returned to their country with their Cuban trainers.