Cuban man, 95, keeps eyes on Lennon statue

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HAVANA -- John Lennon needed help. At least his statue did.

A bronze likeness of the Beatle, who was assassinated 33 years ago Sunday, was inaugurated in a leafy Havana park 13 years ago. But souvenir-seekers kept stealing the iconic circular spectacles that adorned it.

Officials tried gluing them on.

They should have known better: Vandals simply broke them off.

Enter Juan Gonzalez, a 95-year-old retired farm worker who lives across the street. For the last 13 years, four days a week, Gonzalez has showed up at 6 a.m. for a 12-hour shift, wearing a government security guard's uniform and cap.

As tourists arrive, he places the glasses on the singer's nose and waits patiently as they snap pictures. When they leave, he gently tucks the glasses away in a shirt pocket next to his cigars.

Gonzalez probably didn't hear much of the Beatles in their heyday. He was already middle-aged and the communist government then frowned on rock 'n roll and its long-haired practitioners. Not much of their music made it to the ears of farmers in rural Cuba and he moved to the capital only about 20 years ago to be with his daughter. But he says he's a fan now.

Despite his age, Gonzalez says he's not ready to quit his mission to help preserve the memory of one of modern music's greats, and to meet people from all corners of the globe.

"All the foreigners that come here take a picture of me, both men and women. They sit here with me and take pictures," Gonzalez said. "I am in every country in the world."

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