/** reg.carib: 207.0 **/
Relations with the whole Caribbean
Granma International, Electronic Edition, [may] 1998
Havana - THE close relationship between the Dominican Republic and Cuba was sealed during the struggle for liberation from the colonial yoke in the last century, with Méximo Gomez' decisive and sustained participation in the two Cuban Wars of Independence, and the support constantly found by Cuba's national hero José Marti in that neighboring island. Now, with the full restoration of diplomatic relations, both nations have made the most fitting tribute to those two independence leaders by creating closer ties between their peoples.
The reestablishment of full relations between the two countries, formalized by the permanent UN representatives of Cuba and the Dominican Republic, was the culmination of a process of institutional rapprochement over the years, which acquired a special impetus under the current Dominican administration, headed by President Leonel Fernéndez.
The joint declaration, dated April 21, 1998, highlights the decision to further strengthen the traditional links of friendship, neighborliness and cooperation between both peoples and countries, on the basis of the principles of the UN Charter and international law, and with an awareness that the historic moment through which humanity is living demands dialogue, harmony and a search for consensus so as to confront future challenges and advance the objectives of development equality, social justice, peace and security.
At the same time, it notes current advances in terms of regional and hemispheric unity, particularly in the Caribbean and Central American region, where integration processes of singular importance are developing, combined with a shared will to expand and strengthen ties with all countries on the basis of mutual respect and equality in relations among states.
The initial step toward complete normalization took place in June 1997, with the reestablishment of relations at consular level. In December, the Cuban general consulate was installed in Santo Domingo and, in early April, the Dominican consulate was officially opened in Havana, in a ceremony attended by Foreign Minister Eduardo Latorre and a high-ranking delegation from that country.
Announcing the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, Danilo Medina, secretary of state to the presidency, informed the press that President Fidel Castro had been invited to visit that country and had accepted, and that Foreign Ministers Eduardo Latorre and Roberto Robaina have been assigned to organize the visit. Medina also confirmed that this was a sovereign decision by the Dominican Republic and that his country is committed to economic integration in the Caribbean region, a process in which Cuba has to be taken into account.
Both nations are successfully developing exchanges in various spheres, such as trade, tourism, and sports, educational and cultural cooperation. The Dominican solidarity with Cuba movement has a high profile in terms of promoting friendship and fraternal aid at the present juncture.
The reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic completes Cuba's full connections with the Caribbean as a whole, which will doubtless contribute to the advance of the economic integration process developing in the region, encouraged by the will of the states involved. At the same time, it brings to 164 the total of countries in the world with which Cuba maintains diplomatic relations.
From Granma News and on the eve of diplomat's departure, the delegation was received in the Council of State by President Fidel Castro, accompanied by Vice-President Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina, who had just returned from Spain. During the meeting, Fidel expressed his pleasure concerning the visit -to the Cuban and Dominican Press, and, in an allusion to historical ties, recalled among other things, the Dominican origin of Generalissimo Maximo Gomez, the leader of the Cuban independence forces, and that Jose Marti sailed for Cuba from that neighbouring country to continue the battle against colonial domination.
He responded positively to the proposal currently before the US Congress to lift the blockade on the sale of medicines and food. "The way to do it still hasn't been established", he clarified.
"Now, to talk of humanitarian aid while the blockade is still in place is really absurd; the country cannot accept that, it would be an insult to our country's dignity. Fidel commented that those who thought up the manoeuvre are the same people who promoted the blockade's intensification -Helms people and the so-called Cuban American National Foundation, which has been promoting terrorism within the country -and whose intention "is to indefinitely prolong the blockade. What we demand is an end to the blockade and when the blockade ends, then we won't be needing humanitarian aid from the government of that country," he emphasized.
He said that, "President Leonel Fernandez, with whom he has met in International forums is active, intelligent in his statements, fighting for his country's interests, trying for the world to open up to the Dominican Republic."
In the context of the visit by the Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic, Fidel Castro included in his speech the words, "Like the Pope. we should say, 'Let the world open up to the Dominican Republic, let the world open up to the Caribbean, let the world open up to the people of the Third World who are being more than blockaded and more than asphyxiated. Hundreds of millions of men and women from the Third World have contributed their sweat and blood to the development of Europe, the United States and all those rich powers. They have the moral duty to contribute to the development of the poor countries."
"We can use another of the Pope's phrases. a magnificent phrase! : 'the globalization of solidarity'. Let solidarity become globalized, let there be an end to the destruction of natural resources and great wealth, let there be an end to human beings who individually own billions and billions of dollars, when there are a billion illiterates, and billions of hungry people in the world. Let the world open up to the poor amd let the poor enjoy the world."
The Dominican Foreign Minister expressed his opposition to Havana's exclusion from the Americas Summits. "Cuba should be allowed to participate in hemispheric meetings, just as it does in the Ibero-American Summits," he said.