SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- One of Fidel Castro's
bodyguards defected during the Cuban leader's recent visit to the Dominican
Republic, high-ranking sources in the Dominican government said
The sources, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of
anonymity, said Captain Lazaro de Betancourt sought asylum at the U.S.
Embassy Sunday after a summit of the Association of Caribbean States.
Spokesmen at the embassy and the U.S. State Department in Washington
would not comment on the reports.
"I'm not in a position to comment at this time," embassy spokesman Michael
Stanton said in Santo Domingo. A State Department spokesman said he
could neither confirm nor deny the report.
The captain was the second-in-command of a circle of bodyguards who
protect Castro, the Dominican sources said. They added he was being
housed in a U.S. diplomatic residence in Santo Domingo.
A senior official in the Dominican National Investigations Bureau said
Dominican officials were proceeding with caution because the Cuban was
being protected by the U.S. Embassy, which he said also was in a difficult
situation since the would-be defector was not in U.S. territory.
Castro kept an unusually low profile during the summit and left before
A series of U.S.-backed Dominican governments shunned Castro for
decades until the latest leader, the U.S.-educated President Leonel
Fernandez, took over in 1996 and renewed relations with Cuba last year.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.