The Irish Times – Friday, April 15, 2011
Cuban dictator sought refuge here after his defeat by Castro, document shows
FORMER CUBAN dictator General Fulgencio Batista sought refuge in Ireland
in March 1959, just four months after fleeing the island following his
defeat by Fidel Castro's forces, according to a document recently
In a letter to the then Irish president Seán T O'Kelly, Marta D de
Batista, the dictator's wife, then resident at the Waldorf Astoria hotel
in New York, expressed the hope that the general and his family could
set up home in Ireland.
"Knowing of your presence today in the city , and faced with the
circumstance under which I live these days, it is that I take the
liberty of addressing you in this informal way.
"It is my hope and that of my children, that my husband, the former
president of Cuba, General Fulgencio Batista, would be granted
permission to reside in your beautiful country, so that we can establish
our home there and be all together again. If this were to be possible,
we shall always be grateful for your excellency's kindness."
The file, found by a member of the Cuba Support Group Ireland, Declan
McKenna, while searching in the Irish National Archives for references
to the Bay of Pigs invasion which happened 50 years ago this Sunday,
also contains a note from the office of the president's secretary, later
stamped by the office of then taoiseach Eamon de Valera: "I send you the
enclosed letter received by the president from Madam Marta D de Batista
now residing at the Waldorf Astoria, New York, asking that her husband,
the former president of Cuba, be granted permission to reside in
Ireland. A simple acknowledgement has issued in the matter."
It is likely that Mrs Batista believed that presidential power here was
of a similar order to that in the US – if not in Cuba – but it is not
known if Mr de Valera responded.
Meanwhile, a high-level delegation from Cuba has arrived in Ireland for
a series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs
invasion, which began on April 17th, 1961.
The invasion shook the US presidency of John F Kennedy to the core,
bolstered the fledgling Castro regime and a year later led the world to
the brink of nuclear war with the outbreak of the Cuban missile crisis.
Over next week, the group, led by Bay of Pigs survivor Col Victor Dreke
Cruz and veteran Cuban broadcaster Reinaldo Taladrid, will tour Ireland
for a series of seminars which will include talks and in some places a
screening of the documentary film on the invasion, 66 Hours, the True
Story of the Bay of Pigs.
During the invasion, Col Cruz served under Che Guevara and was wounded
in the battle. He later became a Cuban diplomat.
The delegation's tour of Ireland continues tomorrow in Liberty Hall for
a day-long symposium, then on to Belfast, Derry, Galway, Letterkenny,
Sligo, Dundalk and Cork.