Well, we can now get Cuban cigars. Excerpt:
I have good news for the winners and the losers of the election, whoever they may be. The winners may enjoy the pleasure of celebrating victory with genuine Cuban cigars. The losers can drown their sorrows in Cuban rum straight from the island.
That’s because President Barack Obama has made such indulgences easier. Until recently, any American traveler could bring back no more than $100 worth of these items. Under the new policy, you’re free to bring as much as you can carry.
True, you may bring supplies only for your personal use; selling them is forbidden. Ha. Enterprising travelers will either ignore or find ways to evade these rules. I imagine Americans who really want Cuban rum or cigars will be able to satisfy their desire without flying to Havana.
How good are they? Before he imposed an embargo on Fidel Castro’s communist state in 1962, President John F. Kennedy ordered an aide to lay in 1,000 of his favorite Cuban cigars. In the ensuing decades, they have been prized by aficionados. Havana Club’s cachet has been sufficient to make it the best-selling rum on the planet.
Even some smokers who despised Castro were known to indulge when they got the chance. Anti-communists caught puffing Cuban cigars would say they weren’t subsidizing the dictatorship; they were burning the enemy’s crops.
Now, I’ve had Cuban cigars. On a recent trip to Guadalajara, a bunch of the local company folks took my colleague and I out for a dinner in a rather upscale restaurant, and Cubano cigars were on the dessert menu, so I had one; I also bought one in a small tobacconist’s near the hotel and smoked in while on an evening walkabout. They were good cigars and I enjoyed them, but honestly they weren’t noticeably better than my normal Coschero Torpedo Maduro.
But that’s not the point. The point is this: The Cuban embargo has, for decades, failed to bring down the Castro cabal that rules Cuba. Maybe trade will do the job. I’ve long said that the Soviet Union was brought down not only by the arms race that the couldn’t afford, but also by the blue jeans and rock&roll that their younger generations wouldn’t and the apparatchiks in charge couldn’t afford to ignore.
It’s worth a shot to see if the apparatchiks in Cuba could be brought down the same way.