By Donald Kirk
The great parade marking the 40th anniversary since the defeat of the old U.S.-backed Saigon regime on April 30, 1975, was a show stage-managed by the victors for a southern audience that remains largely indifferent to rhetoric and bombast from their northern leaders.
You had to be a VIP or a journalist to witness the display of high-stepping troops, dancers in flowing ao dai, the Vietnamese national dress, and make-believe guerrillas wearing jungle green fatigues and pith helmets, among other acts.
While state TV footage repeated the parade endlessly, nobody could get near the parade route, less than a mile long, without a pass. The country’s Communist rulers simply don’t trust the response of the sometimes restive citizenry of southern Vietnam. Actually, however, the overwhelming impression around Saigon, as everyone still calls “Ho Chi Minh City,” is that nobody cares much what the rulers say in Hanoi as long as they’re free to pursue capitalist success in a society that’s communist in name only. Read more