Smith led a white minority government in what is now Zimbabwe for 14 years, spending much of the 1970s fighting a bloody guerrilla war against black insurgents.
The black guerrillas were trained by the Castro regime, which in turn was being financed by the Soviet Union as part of its Cold War plans to turn much of the Third World a shade of red.
So you would have thought that relations between Smith and the Cubans would have been a little tense, even after his retirement from politics.
Not quite, according to this fascinating article in today’s edition of The Australian.
Journalist Graham Davis recounts a visit he paid to an elderly Smith in 2000, at his home in one of Harare's better suburbs. To Davis’ surprise, the Smith residence was right next door to the Cuban embassy “and I wondered how he got on with his revolutionary neighbours”.
"I get on very well with my Cuban friends," the former prime minister replied. "From time to time, they actually pass me cigars through the fence."
By the way, as Davis points out, Smith is remembered by “many blacks with nostalgia and a surprising degree of affection”.