Political protest and designated green spaces are both uncommon sights in Vietnam’s capital city. Recently however, prompted by the protest of one dedicated woman, the Prime Minister of Vietnam officially halted plans to erect a $40 million, American-backed, 4-star hotel from being built at one of the city’s most historically sensitive sites.
That site is Reunification Park, which GlobalPost explains was “a signature project of ‘socialist labor’ in Vietnam. Unpaid students built it by hand between 1958 and 1960 in a swamp that had served as a garbage dump in colonial times.” Tran Thi Thanh Van, a retired landscape architect and leader of the crusade, sprung into action when she witnessed a corner of the park getting bulldozed.
“In one of the documents,” says Van, who helped build the park with several thousand other young people years ago, “they said that the hotel will become a resort in the city. What is a ‘resort’? Vietnamese people don’t know English, but they understand that a ‘resort’ is a place for the other people, not for them.”
Now, with the help of angry citizens and foreign NGOs, the city is being forced to find a new location and compensate for some of the $15 million investors had already put into the project.