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Saturday, 9 December, 2000, 15:19 GMT
Castro the 'Lennonist'
Fidel Castro at rally
Fidel Castro says he shares Lennon's ideals
The Cuban President, Fidel Castro, has paid homage to John Lennon at the unveiling of a statue of the late pop singer in Havana.


I am a dreamer who has seen some of his dreams become reality

Fidel Castro
The ceremony in the Cuban capital's El Vedado Park coincided with the 20th anniversary of John Lennon's murder in New York.

President Castro praised Lennon as a revolutionary, whose thinking and ideas made him great.

In the 1960s, when Lennon's band The Beatles topped the charts throughout the world, the Cuban authorities denounced their music as decadent.

But an official statement said recently declassified US documents showed how Lennon had suffered for his opposition to the Vietnam War.

Lennon statue in Havana park
A folk hero in Cuba - but the authorities once banned his music

Mr Castro said he was sorry he never met the former Beatle.

Echoing the lines of Lennon's song Imagine, Mr Castro said: "I am a dreamer who has seen some of his dreams become reality."

The Cuban sculptor Jose Villa Soberon said his statue of Lennon was "not a formal work".

Peace and tranquillity

The statue is of a long-haired Lennon sitting casually on a park bench, dressed in jeans and wearing his trademark wire-rimmed round glasses.

"People, lovers can sit next to him, read a book," said Mr Soberon, quoted by the French news agency AFP.

Castro at unveiling of Lennon statue
Sculptor Jose Soberon: "Lovers can sit next to him"

"It's a tranquil Lennon, without demons, sitting in the park as if he were visiting us."

Lennon never visited Cuba. But according to Francisco Lopez Sacha, head of Cuba's national writers' association, "the tenets of our Cuban revolution match the beliefs of John Lennon".

The former Beatle was shot dead by obsessed fan Mark Chapman on 8 December 1980 as he left his New York apartment.

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See also:

03 Oct 00 | Entertainment
John Lennon's legacy
06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Julian Lennon reflects on John
06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Yoko's anniversary peace call
30 Oct 00 | Americas
Castro and Chavez croon together
19 Oct 00 | Americas
Castro: The great survivor
03 Oct 00 | Americas
Lennon killer denied parole
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