Vedado boasts many popular Havana landmarks such as the Havana Libre hotel and the massive Copelia ice cream parlor. During business hours the latter is surrounded by a phalanx of Cubans waiting in line who are gawked at by tourists leaving from the former.
Not far from these two places, walking distance really (but the tourists still arrive by bus from the hotel), on the corner of 17th and 6th streets, is John Lennon Park.
In the park there is a seated statue of John Lennon on a bench. Some lyrics from his song “Imagine” are inscribed into a marble tile at his feet. The inscription reads “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”.
Victor Hugo was a participant and leader of the 18th century movement to remind humans that there is more to life than the political and scientific ideals of the Age of Enlightenment.
John Lennon imparted a similar message to the Counter-Culture Movement of the mid 20th century. Even though Lennon and Hugo were separated by a couple of hundred years surely The Beatles are a good second act to Hugo’s romanticism.
However, unlike Lennon and the The Beatles, Victor Hugo was a big fan of revolution. He was particularly endeared to the ideals of the French Revolution.
And even though Hugo was born after the death of many of the original First Republic leaders; he still found a grand cause for republicanism and social justice in the doctor cum revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat. Hugo spoke of Marat’s particular form of conditional immortality in this poem:
“He’s reborn in the man who has no job, in the woman who has no bread, in the girl who has to sell her body, in the child who hasn’t learned to read.
“He’s reborn in the unheated tenement, in the wretched mattress without blankets, in the unemployed, in the proletariat, in the brothel, in the jail-house, in your laws that show no pity, in your schools that give no future, and he appears in all that is ignorance and he recreates himself from all that is darkness.
“Oh, beware, human society: you cannot kill Marat until you have killed the misery of poverty.”
In Vedado John Lennon and Victor Hugo are immortalized in bronze. But what about Marat? Is he dead or alive?