“I am going to be the next president of Cuba,” he tells me. I can’t deny the statement gets my attention. He sits next to me, a cigarette hanging out of his lips, and his face deeply lined with a maze of small wrinkles that cover a strong Spanish face. He’s a handsome man, suave and sophisticated with a casual air that keeps him approachable. We met of course dancing salsa at a little corner bar near Havana Vieja. “I’m politico,” he says as if I should do a backflip for him for that one. But yes, I’m intrigued, intrigued enough to even take time off the dance floor to hear what he had to say.
“The Cuban people need a new leader. I have many people who think like I do. Four months ago, I went to talk to Barrack Obama. I talked to two senators to tell them I am the right person for them to look to in Cuba. Fidel is 82, his brother hasn’t thought about a successor. The people are ready for a new leader.”
I was fascinated, if not convinced. To even speak of something like this in public in Cuba can be dangerous. “I don’t fear death. I am not afraid to die for my people. I love my country, but my the people here need to be allowed to evolve.”
After only one week here talking to people, I know this is true. I also know that everyone here loves their country. It’s a deep sincere appreciation for what is here in spite of all the problems and issues. Many people I’ve talked to even love Fidel. They believe he is a good man and that he saved Cuba in many ways.
We dance several more dances, and he walks me to the corner of my street and we turn and go our separate ways. I wonder if in a few years I will see a new face on some political propoganda in Cuba and remember this night.