He said he realized a while back how his long, scruffy beard and his salt-and-pepper hair made him resemble Fidel Castro.
So Cairo Sandino, a Nicaraguan who now lives in Miami, thought it was only natural for him to publicly impersonate Castro, who died Nov. 25, 2016.
The 69-year-old found his olive green traditional Cuban military uniform that he brought himself from the island a few years ago and that resembles the one Castro typically wore. He then started his journey to “simply refresh everyone’s memory” on the communist politician, not to idolize him in any way, he said.
It started about two months ago. He started visiting restaurants and casually strolling around with a cigar dangling from his lips — traversing Miami streets, which are often teeming with those who detest Castro.
Sandino knows it’s dangerous. He knows he could get a beating any day. Just Wednesday he caused a stir when people saw him in Hialeah and at Miami International Airport, and posted videos of him on several social media accounts that got more than a 120,000 views and thousands of comments.
A user identified as @loz_a80 commented, “He has a death wish.” Another, @aldo_luly_: “Ok bet by the end of today they gonna upload a video of some Cuban papi whooping dudes a** for trying that.”
So why would anyone dress up as Fidel, and out of all cities, choose Miami to do it?
Well, for his movie.
Sandino, originally from León, Nicaragua, has been living in the United States for about 40 years, and he’s an actor. He’s the protagonist of a movie he’s currently filming titled “Fidel Lives” and set to be released sometime in 2020, he said. He said it will be his first movie but didn’t disclose which company is producing it.
A woman who identified herself as his manager, Sandra Anaconda, said he plans to make more public appearances in other cities to promote his upcoming film. On Wednesday, he went to the airport because he was flying to New York. He’s also scheduled to visit San Antonio, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., among other locales.
He said the movie is a political satire and tells a fictional story about how Fidel would act in the current world. Other characters then plot his assassination, seeking justice, Anaconda said.
Sandino said he was inspired to work on it because Fidel had “a lot of evilness” but also “a lot of intelligence” and “he’s an important historical figure.”
The wannabe said Fidel was a dictator who caused a lot of suffering, but said he doesn’t really think people “get that offended” when they see him in his costume. His manager said some people in Miami get furious and look like they’re going to attack him but after they start talking to him they calm down.
Sandino said he encountered some Venezuelans at the Miami airport Wednesday, and they were livid. Jack Varela, an airport spokesman, declined to comment.
“I get where they’re coming from. It’s understandable. Some people react that way; they get mildly offended,” Sandino said. “Some people react differently. They kiss me and hug me and ask me to take photos with them.”
He said his intention is not to hurt anyone and that most people in Miami actually “loved it.”
Some of the comments online kind of showed that. A user who signed up on Instagram as @lazaroalexander17 wrote “Told yall Fidel died in 84. He has 100s of CIA doubles and here’s one Haha” with some laughing emojis.