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( NEW DELHI, India (June 11, 2007) – When Columbus set foot on the island of Hispaniola, today split between the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, he thought he had arrived in India. Over half a millennium later, an intrepid team of Dominicans landed in India and have started exploring the Subcontinent, making friends and attracting potential investors to the Dominican Republic.

Ambassador Hans Dannenberg Castellanos, the Dominican Republic's envoy to India, said while few Spanish-speaking nations have embassies in New Delhi, “there are enormous opportunities in many areas of the burgeoning Indian economy." He explained that an attraction for Indian and Southeast Asian businesses “is our geographic location and DR-CAFTA (the Dominican Republic/ Central American Free Trade Agreement) which allows easy access of DR-produced products into the United States which could attract manufacturing plants for pharmaceuticals and textiles.

Officially accredited to Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, Dannenberg Castellanos believes there are many opportunities in the powerful economy of Malaysia.
Listing just some of the trade areas, he pointed to rice, agricultural issues, irrigation and tourism for Vietnam. For Thailand, he spoke of trucks, tractors, cars, tuna, and other canned goods. And in Malaysia, the Technological Corridors and Educational Centers were just some of the possibilities.

A pleasant surprise for the dynamic, young Minister Counsellor Gabriella Bonetti was the fact that “companies from the DR are looking to invest in India's booming real estate market."

Taking advantage of the Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean this year, the tiny embassy saw a steady stream of Indian cricket fans getting visas to the Dominican Republic as a break from the tension of the competition in the West Indies.

Dannenberg Castellanos, a respected tourism expert before he entered diplomacy, noted “India has over a billion people, many of whom are well-educated and curious to venture away from the over-traveled destinations." With over a billion people, he added “the total middle and higher classes of India are almost equivalent to the population of the US and could be attracted to the DR."

David Puig, who handles political issues for the ambassador, said politically, the embassy “could benefit us in other areas as President Leonel Fernández establishes a much higher profile for the Dominican Republic on the world stage."

A recent visitor to the embassy, Lelei LeLaulu, President of Counterpart International – which works closely with Dominican organizations – noted, “Despite its lack of size, Ambassador Dannenberg Castellanos' team has made a big impression in the Indian capital which hosts representatives of the most important countries and businesses in the region."

What laymen see as an endless round of cocktail parties for diplomats, the receptions are where, unencumbered by the formal embassy surroundings, they get much of their business done. So, to test the effectiveness of the Dominican Republic team what better source than diplomatic photographer Mr. Kapoor, whose family has photographed (and heard much of the talk in the process) all the major receptions for a century.

Asked who was currently the most popular and therefore, the most effective ambassador on the frenetic Delhi diplomatic circuit, Mr. Kapoor unreservedly replied, “Ambassador Dannenberg Castellanos, Dominican Republic."

Since 1965, Counterpart has given people a voice in their own future through smart partnerships, offering options and access to tools for sustained social, economic and environmental development. Operating on five continents, Counterpart is supported by the generosity of its corporate and individual donors, foundations, host countries, multilateral institutions and several U.S. government agencies. For further information, visit

Source: Counterpart International Contact: Kyla Springer + 1 202 296-9676 Photographs available at: 1) CAPTION: Ambassador Hans Dannenberg Castellanos of the Dominican Republic (right) presenting credentials to President Abdul Kalam of India. 2) CAPTION: DR diplomats Gabriela Bonetti and David Puig are helping their president open up new Asian vistas.

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