Pictured left to right, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to Cuba Joaquín Gerónimo Berroa, and compatriot Tony Morales during the inauguration of a week dedicated to their country's culture in Havana. Photo: Arielis González Fernández

The fraternal ties shared by Cuba and the Dominican Republic will continue to grow stronger, the country's ambassador in Havana Joaquín Gerónimo Berroa said, upon inaugurating a week dedicated to his country's culture at the end of February.

In conjunction with the celebration of the 173rd anniversary of the nation's independence February 27, 1844, the event began with the presentation of two books: the novel Con los pies en el cielo, written by Berroa, and another of children's stories entitled El pirata valiente, by his compatriot Tony Morales.

During the first event of the week, held at the Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), Joaquín Gerónimo Berroa recalled the friendship between José Martí and Máximo Gómez, two key leaders of Cuba's independence struggle, although the latter was of Dominican origin. He described the two as paradigms for humanity.

He also highlighted the ties shared by revolutionary Cubans with figures fighting for emancipation in the Dominican Republic, such as Juan Pablo Duarte, Gregorio Luperón, Francisco Caamaño, Ramón Emeterio Betances and Pedro Albizu Campos.

Presenting El pirata valiente, he emphasized the importance of children's literature to the formation of values in younger generations, a task José Martí assumed with his book La Edad de Oro, commenting that the collection by Tony Morales emphasizes the need for unity and understanding among peoples. Berroa continued, "I hope it engages all, children and the parents who read it to them."

He referred to the cultural ties between the two nations which have existed for centuries, which will be featured over several days in the Cuban capital, to the delight of residents.

Various Dominican artists joined activities during the week, including musician Victor Victor, great promoter of Merengue, in addition to well known dancer, actress, and choreographer Patricia Ascuasiati, who played the leading role in Ernesto Aleman's film Gunguna, screening at La Rampa theater, as part of the events.

Also traveling to Cuba was renowned guitarist Juan Francisco Ordoñez, along with writer and Freddy Ginebra, who presented the performance "Él canta, yo cuento" in the Casa de las Américas' Che Guevara Hall, while taking place at Havana's Numismatic Museum was an exposition of coins donated by the Dominican Central Bank.

Additionally, at the Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center, Víctor Víctor and Juan Francisco Ordoñez offered a concert/seminar entitled "La bachata: música popular romántica dominicana," on the genre of Merengue declared intangible World Heritage by UNESCO.

The films Tu y yo, by Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada; La familia Reyna, by Tito Rodríguez; and El Detective Willy, by José María Cabral were presented as part of the 3rd Havana Dominican Film Week.

Also included on the schedule of showings was Dólares de arena, directed by Laura Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas, a work featuring Geraldine Chaplin in one of the leading roles which won the Coral Prize for Best Female Performance in the 2014 Festival of New Latin American Cinema.

Sponsored by the Ministries of Culture in the two countries and associated institutions, the week's program included film, theater, literature, and music, concluding on the 27th with the placement of two floral wreaths - one dedicated to Cuba's national hero José Martí, and one honoring the father of the Dominican homeland, Juan Pablo Duarte, at busts of these patriots in Havana.