Castro’s turbulent ties with the Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo.- The late leader Fidel Castro was linked to Dominican Republic’s history for more than 60 years, long before the triumph of the socialist revolution in his country.
One of the least known incidents between Castro’s Cuba and the Dominican Republic occurred September 9, 1977, when 12 MiG-21s conducted strafing flights over Puerto Plata to warn then president Joaquín Balaguer against intercepting Cuban warships headed to or returning from Angola, where the Cuban regime was heading leftist movements.
However a series of dates compiled by listin.com.do, cited by historians such as Euclides Gutiérrez Félix and Cuban journalist Katiuska Blanco Castiñeira, show that Castro has always expressed his admiration for the role played by Dominicans in shaping the Cuba of today.
In 1947 when he was just ending his second year of high school, Castro enlisted to form part of the aborted Cayo Confites expedition which sought to topple the tyrant Rafael Trujillo.
"Fidel’s friendship with the Dominican people is also demonstrated by sponsoring the expedition of June 14, 1959, where he placed Delio Gómez Ochoa, then the senior officer of the Cuban army and the Dominican Enrique Jiménez Moya," writes Gutierrez, who was Fidel’s friend and aide-de-camp during his two official visits to the Dominican Republic.
He also stresses Castro’s deep friendship with the late former president Juan Bosch, who had lived in Cuba and knew of him from as a youngster.
"He defined the country as David of the Caribbean, because of the confrontation with American troops in 1965," he said.
In her book "Fidel Castro Ruz guerrilla of the time" Blanco highlights the support by the Cuban leader to the Dominican fighters Jiménez Moya, Francisco Caamaño, as well as his support to reestablish relations between both nations 40 years later , during the administration of Leonel Fernandez
The Cuban leader officially visited the country twice, the first in 1998 for the Caribbean Forum (Cariforo), which brought together 16 heads of state and government of nations in the region.
He made his second visit in November 1999 to inaugurate the polytechnic Máximo Gómez donated by Havana, at a cost of US$250,000.
That coincided with the country hosting the 9th American Summit and President Fernández used this visit to strengthen ties with Castro and the Caribbean island.