Former Vietnamese State President Nguyen Minh Triet and former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet cordially met on Thursday in Binh Duong Province, a neighbor of Ho Chi Minh City. During their meeting, the two leaders reminisced about Ángela Margarita Jeria Gómez, the biological mother of Bachelet, and her status as the adoptive mother of Triet.
Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is in Vietnam to celebrate the 52nd anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. Bachelet’s visit is a testament to the strong ties between the two nations and an opportunity to further strengthen their bond.
Chile is situated a whopping 17,000 kilometers away from Vietnam.
|Former Vietnamese State President Nguyen Minh Triet talks with Michelle Bachelet. Photo: Huu Hanh / Tuoi Tre|
Unforgettable Bond of Friendship
Do you have someone you can call a great friend? Someone who you can share your thoughts, feelings, and secrets with? If so, you know the value of a special friendship.
Friendship is a bond that can stand the test of time and bring joy, comfort, and support. It is a relationship that is built on mutual understanding, trust, and loyalty. It is the type of relationship in which two people can be themselves and accept each other for who they are.
A true friendship is a two-way street; it requires effort and understanding from both people involved. It is unconditional and based on mutual respect. There are no expectations or conditions attached.
The best friendships are those that are based on honesty, understanding, and kindness. Friends who are willing to be there for each other through good times and bad, and who don’t judge or criticize each other. They are the ones who bring out the best in each other, and who help each other to grow and develop.
Friendship is a special gift that is treasured, nurtured, and appreciated. It is a bond that can never be broken and that can be shared with people from all walks of life. So if you are lucky enough to have a special friendship, be sure to cherish it and nurture it. It is a priceless and unforgettable bond.
The two former heads of state embraced warmly, reminiscing fondly as they reconnected.
Their special friendship was formed in 2005 when former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet came to Vietnam to attend the prestigious Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit week, an event presided over by the former Vietnamese State President Nguyen Minh Triet. Both leaders had a strong appreciation for the growing partnership between their two nations, and that connection was further solidified during their time together that week.
We are delighted to welcome former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and her delegation to Binh Duong Province. As leaders of this region, we are honored to have them here and are looking forward to a productive and meaningful visit. We are sure that this visit will provide a great opportunity for us to explore ways to further strengthen our relationship with Chile.
Former Vietnamese leader praised Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s contribution to the partnership between Vietnam and Chile during a meeting at his house. “Bachelet is a friend of the Vietnamese people,” he said. “She has made important contributions to the strengthening of our relationship and the development of our two countries.”
I miss Ángela dearly. She is the only mother to two leaders of separate countries,” he added.
Listening to former Vietnamese State President Triet retelling stories about their late mother, Bachelet felt her heart swell with emotion and tears welled up in her eyes. She quickly wiped them away, her compassion for her mother renewed.
|Bachelet is touched when listening to former Vietnamese State President Nguyen Minh Triet retelling stories about their late mother. Photo: Huu Hanh / Tuoi Tre|
She declared, “I am delighted and thrilled to be back in Vietnam. Whenever I come here, I’m always welcomed with open arms, especially from my ‘older brother’ Nguyen Minh Triet.”
She added that in the eyes of her generation, Vietnam is regarded as a great monument due to its struggle against powerful empires to secure independence in the past.
Bachelet and her peers from her generation were on the front-lines of demonstrating against the devastating war in Vietnam. Through peaceful protests, rallies, and other forms of activism, they sought to raise awareness about the destruction that war brings and to call for an end to the conflict. Their efforts helped to bring attention to the plight of those affected by the war, and their legacy lives on in the generations that followed. With their powerful message of non-violence, these brave individuals demonstrated that war is not the answer and that it is possible to effect positive change through peaceful means.
From a war-ravaged country, Vietnam has triumphed over adversity and progressed remarkably,” Bachelet told Triet and congratulated Vietnam on its impressive development.
When the Chilean ambassador to Vietnam invited me to visit, I hesitated for a moment before nodding in agreement. Bachelet humorously recounted her decision to come back to Vietnam, a country that she loves deeply.
Former Vietnamese State President Triet remarked that Chile has also endured many challenges and difficulties in the past, similar to those experienced by Vietnam.
Michelle Bachelet, the 38th President of Chile, was a victim of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, the 29th President of Chile. During his 17-year rule, Bachelet and her family experienced imprisonment, torture, and exile. Bachelet’s father was a prominent opponent of the Pinochet regime and was tortured and died while in detention. Bachelet and her mother were also imprisoned and later exiled. Despite the hardships that she and her family endured, Bachelet was able to rise to the highest office in Chile and serve as an example of the resilience of the Chilean people.
During her childhood, Bachelet was exposed to the injustice and human rights abuses of the oppressive regime. She was inspired by her father’s courage and commitment to the cause of democracy, and she became an outspoken critic of the Pinochet government. After studying medicine at the University of Chile, Bachelet was appointed Chile’s Minister of Health in 2000. As Minister, she promoted public health initiatives and oversaw the introduction of a universal health care system.
Bachelet’s family is steeped in revolutionary traditions. Her father, a military commander, was among those who fought to resist the Pinochet dictatorship. During her childhood, Bachelet experienced firsthand the injustice and human rights violations of the oppressive regime. Her father’s bravery and commitment to democracy were a source of inspiration, and she soon became a vocal critic of the Pinochet government. Bachelet studied medicine at the University of Chile, and in 2000, was appointed Chile’s Minister of Health. As Minister, she championed public health initiatives and implemented a universal health care system.
After her father and older brother passed away, Bachelet and her mother were afforded protection by the German government.
Despite enduring a difficult time, Bachelet has shown immense kindness and compassion to her friends. We truly admire her.
I also hope that President Bachelet will continue to strengthen the bonds between the two countries,” Triet shared.
He humorously said that he now dares to call Bachelet his “younger sister.” Earlier, despite their close relations, they referred to each other as “State President” and “President.”
|‘I miss Ángela a lot. Ángela is the only mother of two countries’ leaders,’ former Vietnamese State President Nguyen Minh Triet talks about Ángela Margarita Jeria Gómez, his adoptive mother and the natural mother of the former Chilean leader. Photo: Huu Hanh / Tuoi Tre|
The Unifying Bond of Motherhood
No matter how far apart we may be, the bond of motherhood unites us all. From the moment a new mother holds her newborn in her arms, she begins to experience the shared journey of motherhood. From the hardships of sleepless nights to the joys of watching her child grow, the universal experience of motherhood transcends all boundaries.
No matter what language we may speak, the language of motherhood is understood by all. Even in moments of difficulty, mothers find strength in each other and support one another through shared experiences and understanding. From a comforting word of advice to a much-needed hug, mothers everywhere are connected in a way that is beyond explanation.
Motherhood is an experience that no one can truly understand until they experience it for themselves. It is a journey of discovery and growth, of joy and sorrow. Yet it is a journey that we all share. Despite the differences in our lives, the common bond of motherhood unites us all.
When serving as Chile’s President, Michelle Bachelet often accompanied her mother on visits to other countries, including Vietnam in 2006 for the APEC summit.
At the time, upon learning that Ángela had tragically lost her husband and son to the Pinochet dictatorship, former Vietnamese State President Triet told her that “In Vietnam, women whose husbands or children have sacrificed their lives [in pursuit of the country’s independence and freedom] are honored with the title of Heroic Vietnamese Mother, so Ángela deserves to be a heroic mother as well.”
She was elated to be called “mother,” and then she became my mom—more than just a heroic mother.
Since then, whenever I encountered her, I addressed her as ‘Mom’ naturally due to the close and affectionate relationship we shared, the former Vietnamese leader told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
During a visit to Chile in 2009, President Michelle Bachelet welcomed him to her home, accompanied by her mother, Ángela Jeria.
I presented her with some bangles as gifts, and she was moved. Unfortunately, some of the bangles were too small for her wrists, so I apologized and promised to send her a new set.
On the occasion of the APEC summit in Singapore in 2010, former Vietnamese State President Triet met former Chilean President Bachelet and asked her to help him send a bangle set to Ángela.
I informed Bachelet that I had sent the bangles to my mom.
Bachelet then enquired whether I would be interested in meeting our mother that afternoon. I acquiesced, but shortly afterwards, the then United States President Barack Obama welcomed the leaders of ASEAN countries to a gathering.
At the time, Vietnam was the ASEAN chair, so Triet had to attend [the party]. He retold the experience with a sense of nostalgia.
Understanding it, Bachelet replied, “No problem. I’m sure your mom will sympathize with you.”
|Former Vietnamese State President Nguyen Minh Triet introduces his garden in Binh Duong Province to Michelle Bachelet on March 30, 2023. Photo: Huu Hanh / Tuoi Tre|
Former State President Triet expressed his gratitude for the close relations between the two countries and between himself and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, noting that these close ties had enabled them to easily reach a consensus on the matters at hand.
At a meeting when the two remained in office, Triet proposed that Bachelet recognize Vietnam’s market economy and got her immediate agreement.
Bachelet has visited Vietnam five times, with her first trip taking place in 1977 when she was just 26 years old and a member of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, a group that actively protested the wars that ravaged Vietnam.
She later ventured to Vietnam as the Chilean president and a high-ranking official of the United Nations.
Michelle Bachelet is an historic figure in Chile, becoming the first woman to win two presidential elections in 2006 and 2014. Her success has paved the way for greater female representation within the nation’s government.
She always pushed the boundaries to ensure the welfare of all residents, especially women, children, adolescents, and ethnic minority groups, who are the most disadvantaged in the society.
In November 2017, Vietnam hosted the APEC summit for the second time in its history. On this occasion, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet arrived in the country without her mother, in a visit that is considered to be an important milestone in the relations between the two nations. This event showed the importance of the summit for the nation, as well as the friendly relations between Chile and Vietnam.
Former Vietnamese State President Nguyen Van Thieu later sent a letter to Ángela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, expressing his admiration for her work. Thieu, who had served as president from 1967 to 1975, wrote that he was inspired to reach out to Merkel due to her “skillful and successful leadership.” He went on to praise her for her “steadfastness and determination in facing the challenges of her time,” and wished her success in her future endeavors. Thieu’s letter was a testament to Merkel’s leadership abilities and a reminder that even those who come from different backgrounds can find common ground.
We are deeply saddened that you won’t be able to attend the APEC Vietnam event. Despite the distance, we still cherish the memories we made with you and Michelle Bachelet. We wish you all the best and pray for your continued good health.
The ex-leader of Vietnam also sent Ángela some home-made gifts, including bird’s nest, pomelos, and cashew nuts. These offerings created a unique bond between them, symbolizing their mutual respect and admiration.
When Ángela passed away during the COVID-19 outbreak, he was filled with sadness as he was unable to travel to Chile.
He asked the Vietnamese Embassy in Chile to lay a wreath to pay tribute to Ángela.