The Opening of the U.S. Embassy
After more than 50 years, the U.S. has reopened its embassy in the nation of Cuba. Since its closure in 1961 by President Eisenhower, the U.S. has had little to no political contact with Cuba. Following the Cuban revolution, and the subsequent alliance with the Soviet Union, the U.S began to sever its ties with the small island nation. President Kennedy even went as far as to help stage a coup, which ultimately failed. The situation with our small southern neighbor reached its climax during the October missile crisis of 1962. After U.S. aerial reconnaissance photos captured Soviet missile bases being built in Cuba, it seemed unlikely there would ever be reconciliation. Even after the crisis was averted and the missiles were removed, the American attitude towards Cuba was always one of caution and hostility. Any discussions or incidence were handled with Switzerland acting has a mediator.
However, in December of 2014 President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro began the process of normalizing relations between the two nations. Although we are still a ways off from completely ending the famous trade embargo, the right steps are being taken. There have been lifts on several of the travel restrictions to the island, and visitors were allowed to bring a certain monetary amount of goods back from the country. With the opening of the Embassy, it seems that a bright future is on the horizon between the U.S. and Cuba. While the opening of the embassy is an important step, soon cigar smokers will be able to open up their humidors to the much-coveted Cuban cigar market.
Every cigar smoker in the U.S. knows of the famous brands such as Cohiba, Partagas, and Montecristo. What many do not know as that these brands have a long and storied history in Cuba, with Partagas dating back to the late 19th century. The Cohiba brand, which many mistakenly believe is the oldest cigar brand in the world, was not created until the 1960s. Cohiba was originally made specifically for Cuban President Fidel Castro. It was only after his realization of how good they were that he allowed them to begin selling to the populace. Nearly all of the biggest name brands have their roots in Cuba. H. Upmann and La Gloria Cubana began here, as did Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey. The Cuban Montecristo is still viewed by many as the finest cigar in the world, particularly the #2 size. So while the world watched as the American flag was raised as the embassy was opened, I know many of the aficionados were salivating with anticipation for the opening of the famed Cuban cigar market.