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Breaking the Law: Cuban Cigar Stirs Up Frustrations

One of my friends surprised me with a pack of Cuban cigars for Christmas (Romeo Y Julieta), and after the festivities had calmed down and the dishes were all put away we took to the backyard.

We set up the benches and lit a fire, had a few beers (Yuengling) and settled in for the hour-long smoke session. The general belief that Cuba produces better cigars is not a cliche – it’s the truth – and the conversation eventually developed into the politics behind the ban on the stogies.

I’m pretty sure you can figure out where I stand. As a travel writer, it’s insanely frustrating to be told you can’t go somewhere, to hear Canadians and Mexicans tell their stories of what is supposed to be a gorgeous island.

The reason it gets to me is that the laws are preventing us from bridging the gap. All reports from foreign travel friends are positive and uplifting, yet Americans are being deprived of such experiences – we are forced to swallow whatever image the media and government decide to paint for us.

True, there are ways for Americans to still travel to Cuba, some legal and some very much illegal. I’ve spoken to people who have successfully accomplished the latter, however it’s hard as a young writer to risk getting slapped with the hefty fine (one lady was fined $7,500 in 2001).

There’s a bright side: It’s getting better, as more opportunities were announced this summer. However, these avenues are “not your typical Caribbean vacation.”

Think it over, read up on it. I promise I’ll get there some day – one way or another.

Categories: Columns, Current Events, Travel

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