Home » Recreation and Sports

The Stogie Diaspora: How Revolution And Embargo Created Today's Cigar Industry

Sep 5, 2008
Among cigar smokers, it is always just "the embargo." After all, though governments declare trade and other kinds of embargoes for various reasons all the time, no other such order has so affected the lives of those who smoke cigars as has the United States' trade embargo against Cuba, created by executive order by John F. Kennedy in 1962 and in force ever since.

At the time, Cuba was the world's undisputed cigar capital, thanks both to the uniquely fine tobacco of its Vuelta Abajo district and its history as the first place where many Western explorers and colonists encountered the ancient ritual of rolled tobacco-leaf smoking. As a matter of fact, though, that "cigar capital" status is increasingly being challenged by offerings from Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic - a fact that itself relates to our initial subject, The Embargo.

The trade embargo, banning imports to and exports from Cuba, is doubly ironic. After all, the two countries had enjoyed close trade relations for years; indeed, Cuba's political and economic ties to the United States were seen as one reason for the latter's willingness to go to war, in 1898, to secure the smaller island nation's freedom from colonial Spain - a "freedom" that, as many observers then and now have pointed out, was sharply limited by Cuba's utter dependence on the US.

With the larger country accounting for a whopping percentage of the island's exports (eighty-two percent as of 1877) and making periodic attempts at seizing Cuba for itself throughout the nineteenth century (the most famous being the 1854 Ostend Manifesto), it's widely thought that Cuba, by accepting the assistance of its neighbor to the north in its struggle for independence, merely exchanged one kind of colonialism for another, slightly less obvious version. (Indeed, the guns had barely stopped firing when a US-owned company began offering Americans Cuban land; and US troops only left the country when its leaders agreed to accept the Platt Amendment, which stipulated the US's right to intervene in the Cuban economy and political process as desired.) Whether you think that Cuban-US relations prior to 1959 were domineering, neo-colonialist, or just rather cozy, the Cuban revolution of 1959 put an end to that longstanding friendship.

The other major irony is that, according to aide Pierre Salinger, President Kennedy made a point of purchasing 1200 H. Upmann cigars the night before the embargo began. (Salinger himself was dispatched to make the purchase.) The trade embargo, in other words, was signed into law by a man who was himself no stranger to the taste of a fine Cuban cigar.

But that's not the end of the story - and here it becomes doubly ironic again. As the embargo outlasted generations of activist efforts to change it (it even became federal law thanks to the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act and the 1996 Helms-Burton Act), even surviving the frequently-expressed criticism that it merely strengthens Castro while preventing needed aid from reaching ordinary poor Cubans (even staunch conservative George Schultz, who was Ronald Reagan's secretary of state, has called the embargo "insane"), the Cuban cigar industry has been challenged, and some might even say eclipsed, by cigar makers in neighboring countries.

In what we might call the Stogie Diaspora, some of Cuba's best-regarded, longest-established cigar-making families fled the country during any of the several waves of emigration that have punctuated Castro's reign. Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras have absorbed an especially high number of these once-Cuban powerhouses. These immigrants have flourished in their new homes, to the point where cigars from these countries routinely top international rankings.

Though a Cuban cigar remains a peak memory for many dedicated cigar smokers, the expertise of these Castro-evading expatriates has allowed these countries' cigar industries to attract some of the prestige that once attached only to their island neighbor. For example, Nicaragua's importance as a source of cigars is so established that its cigar industry has managed to survive not only the Sandinista-era decision to turn the country's tobacco crop to cigarette tobacco (which was thankfully reversed in the early 1990s), but, more importantly, the utterly disastrous Hurricane Mitch, which left thirty percent of the country's infrastructure standing.

Adding insult, perhaps, to injury, many of these same countries have benefited from the assistance of Castro's Cuba over the years. In Honduras, for example, the two countries' history of cooperation allowed the Hondurans to learn tobacco cultivation from the experts (some of whom then decided to remain in country permanently!).
About the Author
CigarFox provides you the opportunity to build your own sampler of the finest cigars that include cigar brands like Montecristo, Romeo & Julieta, H Upmann, Macanudo, Cohiba, Partagas, Gurkha and many more. Choose from more than 1200 different cigars! Other cigar products include cigar humidors, cigar boxes, and cigar accessories like Zippo Lighters.
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 124
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Artists
    • Gambling
    • Humanities
    • Humor
    • Movies
    • Music
    • Photography
    • Tattoos
    • Television
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Accounting
    • Credit
    • Currency Trading
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Insurance
    • Investing
    • Leasing
    • Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mutual Funds
    • Personal Finance
    • Stock Market
    • Structured Settlements
    • Taxes
    • Wealth Building
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Acne
    • Aerobics
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Beauty
    • Cancer
    • Cosmetics
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Diseases and Conditions
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Fitness
    • Hair Loss
    • Heart Disease
    • Medicine
    • Men's Health
    • Muscle Building
    • Nutrition
    • Skin Care
    • Supplements and Vitamins
    • Weight Loss
    • Women's Health
    • Yoga
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Babies
    • Collecting
    • Elderly Care
    • Genealogy
    • Hobbies
    • Parenting
    • Pets
    • Pregnancy
    • Woodworking
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Buying
    • Selling
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Causes and Organizations
    • Environment
    • History
    • Holidays
    • Men's Issues
    • Nature
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Women's Issues
    • World Affairs
    • Air Travel
    • Camping
    • Cruises
    • Destinations
    • Outdoors
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources