Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Tom Berenger, July/Aug 2007
Once again, you've outclassed and outdone the mainstream media with your reporting on Cuba. I just finished reading your June 2007 issue entitled "Cuba Tomorrow," and once again was impressed with your insightful and balanced reporting and commentary. Everyone who cares about the Cuban issue should read James Suckling's interview of Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban National Assembly, because you won't find this kind of coverage in any other U.S. publication. I read every piece, including the tired, old rants from Congressman [Lincoln] Diaz-Balart (one can't help but feel that 10 years after Castro's passing, Diaz-Balart will still be writing the same diatribes).
As I read your Cuba issue, I was reminded of a recent debate on the Cuban travel ban, held in Miami. One of the panelists was anti-travel ban Congressman Jeff Flake. As Flake spoke, I couldn't help but feel that the only "foreigner" on the debate panel in this American city was this low-key, white-bread congressman from Arizona. The more I listened, and with all due respect to the other anti-ban panelist, Professor Lisandro Perez, it became clear that Flake was the lone defender of American ideals of liberty and free speech—by word and by example. He wasn't fazed by a pro-embargo panelist's idiotic charge that Flake's presence at this debate, in Rep. [Ileana] Ros-Lehtinen's district, was a sign of disrespect to the congresswoman. None of the shrill in the air fazed Flake; he wasn't moved by the weak arguments in favor of keeping the travel ban. In more ways than one, I think Flake represents the sentiments of the majority of Americans, especially those who live in the libertarian West from which he hails. And I sincerely believe that this is what scares the likes of Diaz-Balart the most. Those who favor the travel ban know what usually happens when their positions are put in front of the broader, freedom-loving American public: they simply don't hold up; they don't withstand Americans' sense of liberty and right. Just like when they were exposed to the ugliness of the Elián González episode, Americans will react in disbelief and clamor for decency and justice. They will demand that all Americans be given the right to travel and visit their relatives no matter where they may be living on this planet or when they want to travel. How ironic that a white-bread Republican from the West has become the best friend of those Miami Cubans who are dying to see their relatives in Cuba.
Miami Beach, Florida
Your latest issue about Cuba shows just how screwed up our government is. Cuba is not a threat to this country any longer and we are wasting taxpayer dollars having cigar purchases investigated. If the government cared about this country, maybe it would stop firearm sales over the Internet; maybe the tragedy of Virginia Tech never would have happened. It seems to me that administration after administration, both Republicans and Democrats, seems to think Cuba is about to invade the United States tomorrow.
A lot of economic growth can occur with economic relations with Cuba and would create lots of jobs. This country needs to rethink its priorities about our policies and make some that will be of benefit to this country. It is OK to get info on how to build a bomb on the Internet, but if you buy a Punch Double Corona you can go to jail.
As a longtime subscriber to Cigar Aficionado, I always look forward to the arrival of the magazine. But I would prefer that you continue covering articles about cigars and stay away from Cuba's political situation. I am one of the many Cubans who would rather die in freedom in the United States than return to the oppression of the communist government. Now that Raúl Castro, known as the Butcher of Santiago, is supposed to be in control in Cuba, nothing will change. Traveling to China has not changed the communist oppression in that country or improved its human rights. I believe that the key for change in Cuba can only come when human rights are honored and there are no more political prisoners in jail.
Dr. Celestino Heres
Thank you for your June 2007 issue focusing on Cuba. Gregory Mottola's article, "Travel Ban Update," gave an accurate picture of the current situation relative to travel to Cuba. What I would like to add is that there is an important bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 654, the "Export Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2007," which would once again allow Americans to travel legally to Cuba.
If you believe that U.S. citizens should have the same rights afforded to citizens of Canada, Europe, South America and the rest of the world and be able to travel to Cuba without the threat of an enormous government fine, then you should take a minute and contact your U.S. representatives and ask them to support this bill. Then you can enjoy Cuban cigars on their home territory, under the palm trees, on the white beaches of this beautiful island.