‘Cubans’ have long been forbidden fruit in the US tobacco market. They were widely considered the best in the world even before the trade embargo which made them contraband beginning in 1962. Since then the mystique surrounding the cigars has only increased.
President John Kennedy, who implemented the embargo, famously ordered 1,200 hand-rolled Cuban cigars just hours before it went into effect. Legend has it that he waited for word that the cigars had been purchased before signing the order which meant his countrymen would no longer be allowed to buy them.
Not that he lived long enough to smoke them of course…..
Thee but not me? Well, he was a Leftie.
Yes, total hypocrisy but what do you expect from a politician?
Apparently the US remains awash with bad fakes, alongside some genuine articles that get smuggled in. But, taking the mean or median (and leaving aside the fact that the Trinidad Reyes and Partagas Serie D no. 4 are possibly the finest cigars currently made), Cuba does not make the world’s best cigars. Panama does, by several country miles.
K.R. Lohse – “Thee but not me? Well, he was a Leftie.”
But he was one of the last moderately good Lefties. After all, he cut his teeth on anti-Communism, strong defence for the West and Union-busting.
It is more likely that it was hereditary taint from the rest of his openly criminal family than his personal politics.
Bloody Obama! What’s this going to do to the price of Havana Club 3 y.o. and Cohibas?
He was a bastard indeed. I have always assumed that his recklessness in getting his motorboat rammed by a Japanese destroyer was a consequence of his risking the necks of his crew in hopes of advancing his planned political career by becoming a “war hero”. Our equivalent would be Mountbatten.
Anyway, more about his bastardy here.
@Andrew, I think it will have very little effect on prices, partly since most of the cost of both is tax. The US will still consume the same mix of bland Dominican stuff and Cuban fakes/QC rejects/relabelled grey imports. The black market in the real stuff will become a legitimate market, that is pretty much it. The majority of fake Cuban cigars are actually made in Cuba, so there is supply of tobacco and labour there to easily convert the junk to a legitimate product of higher quality than the current fakes but probably lower quality than the top end Cubans. The Americans won’t care – look at the crappy sweepings Montecristo are successfully marketing in Europe for example. The volume is in slims and cigarillos and other shite that people buy because it has “Cuba” written on it.
There’s also no marketing operation for Cuban fags in the USA and I guess after all this time they won’t be to American tastes any more. Really, the source of the “Cuban” mystique is the embargo. I happen to think Cuba makes the two best cigars in the world, a lot of good stuff, a fair amount of average stuff, and increasing amounts of cheap junk. In quality terms Panama has the edge, but they don’t have the volume to dare obtain the reputation they deserve.
In your quoted excoriation of JFK there is a fascinating argument between “Pops” and Benjamin Schwartz (the author of the article) which – if you believe “Pops” – undermines the prosecution case in respect of JFK’s “recklessness”.
I find Schwartz the more persuasive. And anyway, it has no bearing on Kennedy’s heroic/reckless/incompetent naval record.
That one’s rather far down on the list of Kennedy Clan offenses.
It’s so nice to see that family withering away.
“The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power” pp 131-2 contains some useful material on how JFK contrived to be the only USN torpedo boat skipper to get himself rammed in WWII.
Apparently nobody on the boat knew the destroyer was near until it was practically upon them, what with visibility being rotten on a moonless night. And he couldn’t get her out of the way because she had only one of her three motors running; the other two had been turned off in case they made it easier for Japanese aircraft to spot her.
But the visibility was allegedly very poor, so how were these hypothetical Japanese aircraft to spot the boat? Sounds to me as if he’d made a rotten judgement, turned off two motors, and then failed to mount a good watch. Naturally, he also seems to have lied about what happened. It cost a couple of crew their lives.
JFK wasn’t that much of a leftie – he was to the right of MacMillan on a lot of stuff. Remember back in those days, the Democrats were a coalition of the reasctionary white southerners, unions and big business (the Sherman anti-trust act was signed by a Republican President, Jay Rockefeller III was a Democrat Senator) while Republicans were small business and farmers and, in the south blacks and moderate whites. Strom Tiurmond was elected to the Senate as a Democrat. After George Wallace split the Democrat Party and Nixon adopted a “Southern Strategy” there was a tidal shift and Democrats actively wooed the blacks – and allowed them to vote – which resulted in several Democratic senators (I can remember Thurmond and Phil Gramm and I am sure there were some more but less memorable 40-odd years later) defecting.
The point of JFK ordering cigars before banning them is not that he was as bastard, deliberately doing down other Americans, but that he was a spoilt brat who wasn’t going to do without his favourite smoke while trying to bankrupt Cuba.
dearieme – “Anyway, more about his bastardy here.”
So Mr Schwartz’s complaint is that Kennedy was too tough on the Soviets and should have let them station as many missiles as they liked next to the US?
Yes, Kennedy f**ked up the Cuban missile crisis on a massive scale – the second biggest US defeat in the Cold War after Vietnam – but cry me a frickin’ river.
Americans weren’t just unable to buy them in the US. It was, technically at least, illegal for any US citizen to purchase Cuban cigars anywhere in the world. Difficult to police, admittedly.
“So Mr Schwartz’s complaint is that Kennedy was too tough on the Soviets”: much of his complaint is about Kennedy’s repeated lying. He’s also clear that the start of the whole stishie was Kennedy’s deploying of Thor missiles to Turkey (and Italy). My own interpretation is that, given his evidence, Schwarz was actually too kind to Kennedy.
dearieme – “much of his complaint is about Kennedy’s repeated lying.”
As opposed to whom precisely? Castro? Nice of him to tell the Cuban people he was a Communist. Khrushchev?
“He’s also clear that the start of the whole stishie was Kennedy’s deploying of Thor missiles to Turkey (and Italy). My own interpretation is that, given his evidence, Schwarz was actually too kind to Kennedy.”
No, he claims that. He does not know what Khrushchev was thinking. He cannot know because Khrushchev was an accomplished liar. Who lived in a close, totalitarian society. Yes, they deployed Thor missiles to Turkey. So what? They had similar missiles in Britain. Exactly how is the Soviet Union threatened any more or less?
Indeed the Soviet Union showed how threatened it was – it did not keep its armed forces on anything close to a ready to launch state. They kept the warheads separate from the missiles and usually in the care of the KGB. They knew that the West was not going to attack them.
But if the fact that the Thor missile was a liquid fuelled rocket which meant it would be best used for a First Strike, well, so were pretty much all the Soviet Union’s missiles – it was not until 1976 that they deployed a solid fueled rocket with the SS-16. Even then they continued to make liquid fueled ones like the massive SS-18.
But hey, evenness, that would not be professional would it? That would detract from his basic point which is the US is evil and the Soviet Union innocent victims.