Vietnamese representative tells CPUSA convention about Agent Orange problems
Luong Hong Phuc, a member of the staff at the Embassy of Vietnam, speaks at the CPUSA's 32nd National Convention in Chicago, June 8. | Taylor Dorrell / People's World

Read more coverage of the Communist Party USA’s 32nd National Convention.

CHICAGO – A representative of the Communist Party of Vietnam addressed a gathering of hundreds of U.S. communists and their supporters at an event here last weekend, telling the gathering that his people continue to suffer the effects of Agent Orange. It was a chemical that the U.S. sprayed on people, animals, agricultural products, and forests in a failed attempt to defeat the Vietnamese in their war for liberation in the last century.

The gathering of hundreds of U.S. communists and their supporters constituted the 32nd Convention of the CPUSA which took place last weekend in the 105th year of the existence of that party.

The CPUSA was part of a broad coalition of labor and allied groups that opposed the U.S. role in the war against Vietnam. The peace movement in those days hoped for, but could not expect at the time, that in the future, representatives of Vietnam would be coming to the U.S. to discuss the illegal war waged against them.

So for many of the older people at the convention, the presence of a Vietnamese guest was particularly significant as they recalled their own roles in the peace movement while younger participants had a chance to learn about some aspects of the war no longer discussed by the corporate media.

Luong Hong Phuc, currently serving at the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington, read a message of support from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam to the convention. The message expressed appreciation for the role U.S. communists played in the movement against the U.S. war on Vietnam.

Throughout the United States, the CPUSA and countless other organizations propelled the anti-war movement toward the success of winning over the majority of Americans to their cause. The message from the Communist Party of Vietnam’s leading body underlined their continued appreciation for that support during the most difficult times in Vietnam’s history.

This history was also echoed at the Convention by long-time CPUSA leader and former vice-presidential candidate Jarvis Tyner, who recounted the time he and other CPUSA leaders visited Hanoi during the United States’ war there. He told the convention about how he was guided to the safety of a bomb shelter by his Vietnamese hosts when US bombs started to fall on Hanoi and how appreciative the Vietnamese were, at that time, for the CPUSA’s visit and support.

The Vietnamese often say that without the support of the international anti-war and peace movements, their war for national unification would not have succeeded.

Luong Hong Phuc talked about the “important and growing role that CPUSA is playing in U.S. politics today as a progressive force, fighting for democracy and a better future.” He expressed his party’s confidence in the success of the CPUSA Convention and the hope that the two parties will continue to work together.

Delegates at the CPUSA convention listen as Luong Hong Phuc speaks on Saturday. | Taylor Dorrell / People’s World

An important aspect of the shared work moving forward will be centered around the fight for justice for victims of Agent Orange and other chemical weapons. During the war in Vietnam, the U.S. military used a number of chemical weapons that continue to affect the Vietnamese people to this day. Some estimates put the number of victims as high as nearly 5 million.

A recent delegation from the CPUSA to Hanoi visited the care centers run by the Vietnamese Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) and saw first-hand how the chemical weapons used by the US military continue to harm new generations. The United States government refuses to offer any support to these victims and the US courts protect the chemical companies, especially Dow Chemical, that produced these illegal weapons.

Many Americans, starting with U.S. soldiers and their families, were sickened by the use of the deadly chemicals. And the harm did not stop with that.

Dow Chemical Company was complicit in schemes to get rid of the residue from its production of the chemicals by selling it to keep down dust on unpaved roads in towns in the U.S. The town of Times Beach, Missouri, for example, ended up having to be erased from existence in order to cover up and prevent the spread of contagion from the spraying of the residue on all the streets of the town.

The Daily World, the predecessor of this newspaper, covered that crime and described for readers how children on their bikes were observed doing “wheelies” on streets and roads coated with the poison. Even cars owned by residents had to be buried along with their homes because of the long half-life of the deadly chemicals.

The crowd at the CPUSA convention rose up in thunderous applause when the Vietnamese representative concluded his remarks.

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Amiad Horowitz
Amiad Horowitz

Amiad Horowitz lives in Hanoi, Vietnam. He studied at the Academy of Journalism and Communications at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics with a specific focus on Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh.