“What Fidel irradiates is amazing”

On a scorching Saturday afternoon, behind a sign reading “Manager’s Office” Antonio Martínez – ill with the flu – was waiting for me in his office. Despite having a fever, the director of Cuba’s Hotel Nacional received me, as my visit concerned Fidel, well more than Fidel, of the mark left on the establishment by the leader of the Cuban Revolution.

I wrote it once before: this hotel has seen it all. The hour I spent talking with Tony, as he is affectionately known, was enough to confirm it. According to the Hotel Copacabana’s first director, when he arrived at the Nacional almost two decades ago, he had little hotel experience, and had no idea of how the institution would show him the global importance of the leader of the Cuban Revolution.

“Despite the fact that since a teenager Fidel has been my example, and I feel a great sense of admiration for him, I could never have imagined that he would be of such special interest and have such a great impact on visitors from all over the world, be they tourists, important figures from the world of culture, the arts or science, or heads of state and government. The hotel is without a doubt a unique witness to these displays of admiration for Fidel,” noted Tony to Granma International.

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