Cigar Aficionado

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire

I just finished lunch at El Aljibe restaurant in Havana, and I noticed a table of a dozen or so dudes wearing various U.S. baseball uniforms, from the Dodgers to the White Sox. They looked like they were having a great time. They had smiles from ear to ear and a number of them were smoking cigars. I guess it was after their baseball game.

I didn’t want to be too nosy, but I went over and asked them what they were up to. I approached someone wearing a Dodgers uniform because I am born and raised in Los Angeles. “We are here playing baseball,” he said with a friendly voice.

“Where are you from in the states?” I asked.

“We are mostly from California,” he added.

They said that they had officially come to Cuba on a cultural exchange to learn more about Cuba and play baseball with the Cubans. Sounds good to me. I didn’t want to pry. And the more time you spend in Cuba, the more you realize that anything is possible.

Just think what happened this weekend. Who would have thought that Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) would have released a report over the weekend saying “that the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its stated purpose of 'bringing democracy to the Cuban people…”

The Senator apparently believes that travel restrictions to Cuba should be relaxed, U.S. remittances to relatives on the island should not be limited and American agricultural products should be available to Havana with credit. Cuba already buys something like $440 million worth of American agriculture per year but has to pay cash in advance. The U.S. is Cuba’s fourth biggest trading partner.

Anyway, it is all a move in the right direction. And I don’t see why I should have all the fun here, or my newly found friends in baseball uniforms.

I wonder what the Habanos cigar festival, which officially begins tonight, would be like if Americans could legally travel to the island? I think it would be packed!

"James, you mentioned this year's festival is not as busy as previous years. Do you think they will have the festival next year considering global market slowdown?" —February 24, 2009 11:07 AM