Resolution has no expiration date, but city says it could rethink stance if country improves human-rights record.
SANTA ANA – With ceremony and a promise of solidarity with the Vietnamese American community, the City Council adopted a resolution seeking to discourage official visits from communist Vietnam.
“What this resolution is intended to do is to send a message to those who are adverse to freedom,” said Councilman Vincent F. Sarmiento, noting, as the resolution does, that Little Saigon has its roots in Santa Ana. “We want to stand against countries that violate human rights of their citizens.”
Mayor Miguel Pulido invited council members, following a 6-0 vote on Tuesday, to gather in front of their chamber to sign the resolution, which went into effect with their signatures.
As they did so, representatives of the Vietnamese community, ranging from youth to the elderly, gathered around to witness the event.
“This resolution really shows that Santa Ana stands behind promoting social justice,” said Councilwoman Angelica Amezcua.
Under terms of the measure, the city is on record in discouraging official government visits from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to Santa Ana.
Vietnamese officials will be required to alert the chief of police at least 14 days before a visit. The city asserted its right to charge any entity that initiates official visits for any costs that Santa Ana might incur. It has no expiration date, but said that Santa Ana would discourage official visits until the State Department or international organizations find that the country has improved its human rights record.
Both Westminster and Garden Grove in 2004 adopted resolutions seeking to discourage official visits from Vietnam, but both measures expired in 2009.
After hearing concerns from the Vietnamese community, the Santa Ana City Council in November directed staff to prepare a resolution modeled on Westminster’s 2004 measure, seeking notice of official visits to allow time for police to prepare.
Soon after, the city councils of Garden Grove and Westminster approved new resolutions seeking to discourage official visits. Garden Grove’s mandates a 14-day notice from visiting delegations, while Westminster seeks a 10-day notification from the State Department. Like Santa Ana’s, the Garden Grove and Westminster resolutions have no set expiration date.
The cities approved the resolutions to diminish any risk to the public of an official visit. Mass demonstrations erupted in Little Saigon in 1999 when a video store owner displayed a flag of communist Vietnam and a picture of Ho Chi Minh.
The consul general of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in San Francisco has said that such resolutions have no impact on Vietnamese delegations and are not enforceable. The two countries resumed diplomatic relations in 1995 and visits are coordinated with the State Department, not local agencies, said Consul General Hung Ba Nguyen.
Absent from the meeting was Councilman Sal Tinajero.
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