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Daily News - 20 August 1998

Caribbean chiefs of state visit
The President of Surinam Jules A. Wijdenbosch and Prime Minister Janet Jagan of Guyana were the first chiefs of state to arrive to Santo Domingo for the Caribbean Summit that opens in this city today. During the meeting, regional government heads will discuss regional alliances and trade strategy. Also, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago Basdeo Pandy arrived yesterday. They were received at Las Americas by the Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre. The remaining chiefs of state are expected today.

Cuban Fidel Castro arrives
Amidst tight security measures, Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro arrived shortly after 11 am from Cuba. He was received with military honors by President Leonel Fernández and the Fernández cabinet at the Las Americas International Airport. The airport was closed from 8:30 am to the expected arrival at 11 am. The Cuban President arrived on a Cubana de Aviación flight. This is Castro's first visit to the Dominican Republic. He will be in the Dominican Republic from 20 to 24 August.
Castro's visit to the Dominican Republic is part of a Caribbean diplomatic offensive that has taken him to Jamaica, Barbados and Grenada.
While trade and cultural exchanges had occurred for several years during the Balaguer administrations, it was only in April of this year that the Dominican Republic restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba.

President Leonel Fernández welcomes Castro
In a very brief speech at the Las Americas International Airport, President Leonel Fernández welcomed Fidel Castro and expressed Dominican appreciation for his participation in the frustrated guerrilla invasion of Cayo Confite, an aborted effort to topple the Trujillo Dictatorship. "Your visit is motive for rejoicing, may you feel at home in the Dominican Republic, as you have come to the birthplace of Generalísimo Máximo Gómez," said President Fernández.

Castro speaks upon arrival
Shortly upon arriving, Fidel Castro's first words were "what can I say? I am here, and I almost can't believe it. It is a dream of an entire lifetime."
The Cuban statesman then went on to speak about common historic and friendship ties between both countries and to stress that there is much that both nations can do to forge a better tomorrow. Following is a free translation of Castro's words upon arriving to Santo Domingo:
"Among the first things I learned during my first days in school was that very near to us there was a legendary country, that shared close historic ties to Cuba. That country we knew as Santo Domingo -- I don't know if there was any change since I entered grade school and there was a change of the name, I know that Santo Domingo is the capital and Dominican Republic is the republic. I also knew that the Indian "Hatuey", the first man that taught us how to fight for freedom, came from here. Since then, centuries have passed with much history in common, and nothing has been able to end the feelings of admiration, fraternity, and sympathy among our two people of a very similar characters and psyches.
"Throughout my life I have had perennial admiration for this country and the struggles of its people. There was one happening engraved in the souls of our people, the Dominican participation in the Cuban independence war, the role played by Máximo Gómez, who became one of the most extraordinary figures of our history. We do not know, or better still I would not dare to discuss whether he was Cuban or Dominican. Many Dominicans, illustrious Dominicans have died in Cuba and their mortal remains will rest in that land that is their land, land of Dominicans as the Dominican Republic is the land of Cubans."
Addressing President Fernández, he said that the President's words of his participation in Cayo Confites made an impression on him. "What I have done for you is nothing. It is much what we have done together, but there is much more what we should do in the future and with that spirit I have come to this country, to participate in this great and important meeting, a big meeting of small countries that will have decisive importance for the present and future of our region. I know how much effort you are doing to achieve the integration among regional countries. I have been honored and am grateful for the friendship and brave gesture of inviting me to an official visit that will be brief given the number of commitments we have to fulfill in this month."
Fidel Castro continued: "Historians tell that Columbus said upon arriving to Cuba that it was the most beautiful land eyes had ever seen. Probably Columbus had not seen the island known as Hispaniola. But if he said that, I would like to say when I express my feelings, that I wanted to come here to meet the admirable and wonderful Dominican people, and to tell them that this is the land that can most move the modest Cuban heart. Greetings with the warm and may I transmit the profound feelings of friendship and solidarity of our people to the Dominican people. Thank you very much."

Official committee to accompany Castro
The government announced that Minister Eduardo Latorre will head an official committee that will accompany Castro during his extended visit of state, from 22 to 24 August. Other members of the committee are Danilo Medina, secretary of the Presidency; Temistocles Montás, Technical secretary of the Presidency; Miguel Cocco, director of customs; Euclides Gutiérrez, Superintendent of Insurance; Minou Tavarez Mirabal, Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations and the Consul General of the DR in Havana, Cuba, Grecia Fiordaliza Pichardo.
While the Caribbean Summit will end on Saturday, 22 August, Castro will stay on for a state visit. During his extended visit, he is expected to visit Baní, some 50 kilometers west of Santo Domingo, and the birthplace of General Máximo Gómez who fought at the side of Cuban Liberator José Martí for the independence of Cuba from Spain in the 19th century. He is expected to also visit Monte Cristi, on the northwest of the DR, where the Manifiesto de Monte Cristi was signed. In the document signed in 1891, the Máximo Gómez accepted to join Martí in the Cuban independence war.
President Leonel Fernández announced that the Cuban statesman will be honored with the highest decoration awarded by the Dominican state, the Orden del Mérito de Duarte, Sánchez y Mella, Gran Cruz Plaza de Oro.
The Listín Diario informed that the Cuban mission will discuss the creation of a common market for the exchange of goods, services. Commerce between the DR and Cuba. The DR imports cement, pharmaceuticals, steel, marble from Cuba and exports fertilizers, paints, oils, furniture and equipment for hotels.

New director of Defensa Civil
President Leonel Fernández appointed the press secretary of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, Elpidio Báez as the new director of the Defensa Civil. He replaces Eugenio Cabral who had been in the past for more than 12 years.

Two needed for a fight
Secretary of the Presidency, Danilo Medina told the press that two are needed for a fight. The PRD has announced war on the PLD and the government, but Medina says that the PLD is not joining the fight. He said that the reforms that the country needs do not belong to any particular party but the Dominican Republic. A faction within the PRD head by the new president of the senate, Ramon Alburquerque has said that the senate will block the reforms proposed by the government. Medina said that if the PRD wants to fight, they must know that the PLD will not fight.

Rightist TV commentator beat up
Board directors of the Cuban Solidarity Committee beat up journalist Rafael Bonilla Aybar (Bonillita) when he showed up to support Anticastro activist Jose Aguila Calimano at a press conference called at the Hotel Cervantes. The press conference had to be called off when about 15 members of the Cuban Solidarity Committee, head by painter Silvano Lora and Iván Rodríguez, showed up with posters commemorating the visit of Fidel Castro and loudly protesting. Silvano Lora called Aguila Calimano "assassin and worm" and requested that he leave the DR. The evening news showed how a blonde woman member of the group attacked Bonilla. Ramón Almánzar, better known for his organizing of national strikes, later went after Bonillita, kicking him. Silvano Lora was a member of the disbanded Partido Comunista Dominicano.

Dominican theater season opens 28 August
The Dominican theater season begins 28 August at the National Theater and will last through 13 December. Plays will be staged at the Sala Ravelo at 8:30 pm Wednesday to Sunday. Tickets are RD$50-RD$75. The chosen plays for this year are: "Actrices," by M. Bonetti, National Drama Prize Winner 1994 (28 August -20 September). "Cuidado con el de los Cuernos," by Sigrido Blasco and Adrian Ortega. (25 September to 18 October). Salome Ureña, by Chiqui Vicioso (23 October to 15 November). "Las Alegres Comadres de Windsor" by William Shakespeare. (20 November-13 December).

Sosa is Latin American to bat most home runs
Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa holds the Latin American record of most home runs in a baseball season. With his 48th home run hit yesterday in the Cardinals vs. Cubs game in Chicago, Sosa became the leading Latin American players, passing Andres Galarra , Juan Gonzalez and fellow Dominican George Bell. In the same 10 inning game won by the Cardinals 8 to 6, Mark McGwire hit two home runs to regain the lead in homers in the Major Leagues. In the game, Sosa batted a long two-run homer to the left field. Sosa and McGwire have six weeks to go to break the 61 home run record of Roger Maris.

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