December 2011 Printed Issue
Give Them a Break
They value education and hard work. They are peace-loving. They are friendly. They pose no threat to the United States. They love Americans. A country with that kind of profile should be among our closest friends, if not a valuable ally. Given that description, you must think that we are talking about Canada. But, in fact, that's the nature of the Cuban people. Despite all those truths about Cuba, we deny U.S. citizens the right to travel there or do business there. Instead of friendship and diplomatic ties, the U.S. government considers them to be enemies. It is simply crazy.
We've been to Cuba many times over the last 20 years. Every time, we return with the same thought.. If it were not for the political BS in this country, the Cuban trade embargo would have ended long ago. American businesses would have settled their disputes that arose from the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and many Cuban-Americans who settled here after the revolt would have found a way to resolve their own antagonism and hostility toward the government leaders in Cuba.
Instead, American leaders, both in Washington and Miami, continue to insist that the only way to bring change in Cuba is to crack down even harder, make it more impossible to travel or do business there. President Barack Obama, who entered office in 2008 with the possibility of reducing U.S.-Cuba tensions, just last week once again signed the official documents keeping the embargo in place; while President Clinton ceded the right to Congress to end the embargo, President Obama could have at least forced a debate about the embargo. Or there's Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who wants to pass a law reversing all the new travel regulations which have allowed more Americans to visit Cuba through licenses granted to academic, humanitarian and educational organizations.
The officials have it wrong. First of all, the only people getting hurt are the Cuban people. Much of the deprivations they face come from the U.S. trade embargo which limits their access to the closest and most prosperous market to them. Secondly, the mere fact of people-to-people contact is the quickest way to enlighten Cubans about the outside world, especially their big neighbor to the north.
There is a window open right now which has made it easier for Americans to take sponsored trips to Cuba. We have given you a guide to Havana that is current and will make any visit there more enjoyable, especially for all cigar lovers. But the real reason to go is to get to know the Cuban people. It's time the U. S. government come down on the people's side and dropped the ridiculous and outdated policies that keep any progress from being made.
Marvin R. Shanken
Editor and Publisher
JG: The December 2011 printed issue of Cigar Aficionado is one of exceptional beauty and of excellent journalism and outstanding photography. The cover, with its different hues of green, deserves a special award. It displays the mezzanine bar at Havana's Hotel Saratoga, an excellent photo by Angus McRitchie. This current issue of the magazine is truly a work of art.
But it does not stop there. The issue has an incredible and up-to-date “Insiders Guide” to the Capital City of Cuba, Havana, with superb coverage of its best hotels, restaurants, nightlife, cigar factories and cigar shops. A suggested tour of La Habana Vieja, with a detailed street map, is added icing on the cake.
And of course there are all those beautiful and artistic reproductions of cigar bands, produced both inside and outside the Caribbean island.
Run to your nearest magazine shop and get your copy. It will be one that you will go back to many times and you will treasure it forever for its infinite beauty.
But the most important thing that you should do is write to your Congressman and U.S. Senator and request that the Cuba embargo be lifted. Barack Obama has been a big disappointment on the issue, with his timid and weak measures. He continues to pander daily to the Miami money crowd. It will take a true statesman in the future to recognize the futility of the economic and financial blockade against Cuba.
He who lives a life based on illusions will die of disappointments.