Ernesto Vera, a lawyer, journalist and author of his own personal blog, spoke to talkRADIO from Cuba in the days after Fidel Castro died.
We asked him to take the pulse of his country and offer a response to those who have praised Castro since his death. This is what he told us.
Since the death of Fidel Castro we have seen countless people, including Jeremy Corbyn and other members of the political left, praising him and his legacy, suggesting he was a brave, pioneering figure who stood up for his people.
To Mr Corbyn and other people in Britain who support Castro, I say this: that the legacy of Fidel Castro has been misery, firing squads, exile, double standards, hypocrisy, fear and constant violations of human rights.
It’s very easy to praise the words of a leader if you don’t directly experience him, don’t live under his rule. Many people come to Cuba purely as tourists; they have enough money to see the best of the island and, when they’re done, they go back to the first world.
Castro left us all with an era which the Cuban people want to erase from our memory and put behind us as we look towards the future. He spent so much time persecuting his enemies and firing people from their jobs based on their religious beliefs. But now it’s time to change the course of our country; the era of the Castros in power has been a disaster not only politically but also socially and economically.
The majority of Cubans have the same opinion as me, but they are deeply fearful of expressing their view because there is no freedom in the country. The people view with great fear the videos that arrive from Miami, showing people celebrating the death of Castro, because this arrives via the internet.
The Cuban regime has established a period of mourning for Castro lasting nine days. In this period we are not permitted to celebrate or even go about our normal, everyday lives. The few people who have dared to protest or celebrate have been arrested immediately; in fact the police have been doling out fines even for playing music at a loud volume.
The authorities want to make me feel a pain that is not mine, shed a tear that will never be shed. Sorry guys, but I cannot be a hypocrite.
Why do people of the left revere Castro? Perhaps they put him in the same sack, to coin a Spanish phrase, with his fellow Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, a man who has come to symbolise the rebelliousness of youth. But the fame of Che Guevara is based on a myth. He had a lot of luck, because in reality he is an assassin, yet people treat him as if he were a hero or a romantic dreamer.
The political left today is deeply hypocritical. It is robbing so much from all the countries where it has risen to power. That is why we are seeing such a drift towards the political right around the world; there is a widespread disappointment with the ideals of the left. Perhaps Fidel Castro’s apologists should recognise that.