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A Conversation With Fidel

Marvin R. Shanken travels to Havana for an extensive interview with Fidel Castro.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Fidel Castro, Summer 94

(continued from page 7)

Shanken: It is the same size, but with a little darker wrapper. Are you going to allow Cubatabaco to sell it?

Castro: I don't know about that cigar. I always had the Cohiba like this (points to a Lancero) and sometimes a little smaller.

It is really unfortunate that the American cigar smoker cannot purchase cigars from Cuba.

But I will tell you an anecdote about that. You know that [President John F.] Kennedy was the one that set up the blockade. Every time a friend of his came back from Cuba, he made sure that he brought back some Cuban cigars.

Shanken: There are many Americans who buy Cuban cigars when traveling internationally. It is estimated that 8 million to 10 million Cuban cigars a year are smoked by Americans.

Castro: That's very interesting.

Shanken: On to another subject. Did you smoke a lot of cigars with Che Guevara?

Castro: Yes. Che used to really enjoy smoking.I think he appreciated it as much as he appreciated Argentine beef.

Shanken: After the Revolution, we have read that the government decided to stop using the traditional brand names, and that they would have one brand name, called Siboney, for all export cigars. That never happened. Do you have any recollection of that?

Castro: That would have been insanity! That would have been crazy. I always wanted them to create new brands.

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