Big smiles, everyone
The BBC correspondent in Havana, Fernando Ravsberg, has just spent time travelling around the island, visiting five different towns to interview five ordinary Cubans “about their lives” outside the national capital.
And believe it or not, it seems that every Cuban interviewed had nothing but praise for the Castro regime.
Sure, they complained a little about services but faced with a BBC tape recorder, they all happily and spontaneously praised the great “achievements” of the regime.
For instance, Ravsberg visited Santa Clara which, he says, is noted for “its cultural life and more tolerant attitudes to gays”.
And sure enough, he gets to speak to Ramon Silverio, who runs a cultural centre popular with the town’s gay and transvestite communities.
Silverio says he earns the equivalent of less than USD30.00 a month – and he couldn’t be happier.
"Thanks to the Cuban revolution I escaped extreme poverty," he told the correspondent.
Then there is Sebastian Urra, a transport worker interviewed in the Zapata Peninsula, near the Bay of Pigs.
We are told that unlike his children, Urra never went to school back in the bad old capitalist days because he had to work with his father “making charcoal”.
Nowadays, he rents rooms in his home to tourists but must pay the regime 540.00 Cuban pesos a month in “taxes” – whether he has guests or not.
You’d think he’d be a little pissed off at such official racketeering, wouldn’t you?
Instead, the BBC quotes Urra as saying that before Castro, “there were no doctors, no schools, no electricity”.
“The revolution changed my life completely," he says.
Perhaps he was being ironic. Or very, very careful?