LAST CALL: Imagine that: PR man discovers Lennon tribute in Cuba

Imagine you are the head of a New York-based PR boutique, as well as the former manager of the Beatles. Now, imagine you are escorting a delegation of American executives to Havana, Cuba to meet and greet some Cuban cabinet ministers. Finally, imagine that while walking through a Havana park one evening with Cuba's second in command, you stumble across a bronze statue of the late John Lennon seated on a bench.

Imagine you are the head of a New York-based PR boutique, as well as the former manager of the Beatles. Now, imagine you are escorting a delegation of American executives to Havana, Cuba to meet and greet some Cuban cabinet ministers. Finally, imagine that while walking through a Havana park one evening with Cuba's second in command, you stumble across a bronze statue of the late John Lennon seated on a bench.

Peter Brown, CEO of Brown Lloyd James, needn't imagine this - he's lived it.

Last month, at a dinner meeting with Brown's US clients and some Cuban cabinet officials, Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's National Assembly, interrupted a personal introduction to Brown with, "I know who Peter is. I'm a big Beatles fan."

After dinner, Alarcon, who is just below Fidel Castro in the nation's hierarchy, insisted on taking Brown to a Havana Park.

"We come upon the park, and the president leads me down this pathway into park," recalled Brown. "We then come across this park bench under a street light with a bronze statue of a seated John Lennon. I was really surprised."

Lennon appears to be the only pop icon with such a tribute in Havana, where one is more likely to find a likeness of Che Guevara than of a rock star.

Castro unveiled the statue two years ago on the 20th anniversary of Lennon's death. It has since become an informal gathering place for Lennon devotees, in much the same way Strawberry Fields in New York's Central Park has become a draw for US fans.

"The message it left me with was that ideas can transcend differences," said Brown. "It was a poignant moment."

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