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They Were Banned From The U.S., Now They’re Ready To Cross The Border In Unlimited Numbers

When relations between the U.S. and Cuba soured in 1962, John F. Kennedy created a trade embargo, making the Cuban cigar a rare commodity in the U.S.

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Kennedy loved the cigars so much that he asked for 1,000 of them before he put the embargo in effect.

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Flash forward to today: diplomatic relations have started to improve and now these mythic cigars are now allowed unlimited access in the country.

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They should put an embargo on that horrible handshake.

And people are feeling it.

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But what exactly makes a Cuban cigar so special?

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Over the years, Cuba has refined its cigar making process, using only the best tobacco leaves.

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The making of each cigar takes over 100 steps that has been handed down from generation to generation.

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Quality assurance is very important.

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The creation of each cigar is monitored by Cuba’s government, which ensures the quality of each cigar that is made.

Cuban cigars are usually priced between $8 and $80, though some, like the limited edition Cohiba Behike, can cost up to $20K.

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Baller status confirmed.

When the embargo was put in effect, many Cuban cigar makers moved to other Caribbean and South American countries to continue making cigars for the U.S. market.

It sure is nice kicking back after a hard day's work with a Don Collins Corona Grande. #doncollins #cigar

A photo posted by GorillaRican (@gorillarican) on

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These Cuban farmers brought seeds from the original Cuban plants and began cultivating them in their new homes, ensuring that Cuban cigars would prosper in one form or another.

Many people claim that because the original Cuban makers left the country, today’s Cuban Cigar lacks the authenticity it once had.

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Several websites are dedicated to whether or not Cubans are as good as they once were, but it really comes down to preference.

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For years, U.S. citizens were forbidden from bringing Cuban cigars into this country, and violators were subject to serious penalties.

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But that didn’t stop people from trying.

Because of their scarcity, they’ve previously held a cult status in the U.S.

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Mainstream entertainment used the Cuban cigar as the butt (ahem) of many jokes.

Today marks the beginning of a new relationship with Cuba and the U.S., and hopefully our countries can begin to heal the wounds that have long plagued our relationship.

CREDIT: THE NEWS / YOUTUBE

In a statement released on the Whitehouse’s website, Obama laid out his intentions:

In December 2014, following more than 50 years of failed policy, I announced that the United States would begin a process of normalizing relations with Cuba. Since then, we’ve worked with the people and the government of Cuba to do exactly that – re-establishing diplomatic relations, opening embassies, expanding travel and commerce, and launching initiatives to help our people cooperate and innovate. This new directive consolidates and builds upon the changes we’ve already made, promotes transparency by being clear about our policy and intentions, and encourages further engagement between our countries and our people.

READ: There’s More To Miami Than Just Cuban Food

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The Croquettes In Cuba Are Literally Exploding In People’s Faces

Culture

The Croquettes In Cuba Are Literally Exploding In People’s Faces

It’s the case of the exploding croquettes.

We’ve all been at least halfway there. So eager to get our hands on a freshly fried croquette whose smell of jamón is just too tasty to pass up. We get a little too eager and then a little burned. But in the case of dozens of Cubans on the little island, circumstances are much more sinister. Cubans have complained about experiencing severe burns from croquettes for months. Photos posted to social media sites show people with severe burns all of their faces, on their eyes, hands, and torsos.

Cubans are pointing their fingers at Prodal, a state company based in Havana saying they’re the ones to blame.

In a recent report by NBC, the exploding croquettes are being described as “tragicomedy” of strange proportions on the Caribbean island that “imports 60 percent to 70 percent of its food, according to official figures, because national production can’t meet the needs of its 11 million inhabitants.”

Prodal is a state company based in Havana that is being blamed for the incidents which have been cited on social media. In response, the company posted instructions on how to fry the croquettes to avoid “violent” incidents on Twitter.

According to NBC, Prodal produced 20,000 tons of food last year, which was largely made up of sausages and croquettes. The products are sold in government stores. 

Cuba’s Ministry of Domestic Trade told NBC that it has yet to investigate the complaints, saying the complaints “must be presented formally,” not through social media.

“We are investigating an incident with croquettes, but not with those of that company,” an official told NBC.

The bizarre incidents highlight how little guarantee Cubans have of the quality of the food that they purchase from government establishments. It also underlines the little efforts the government does to ensure citizens are compensated for buying food that is defective.

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In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Culture

In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Photo via Getty Images

COVID-19 hasn’t been easy for Cubans. Not only have Cubans been physically affected by the virus like the rest of the world, but the drop in the island’s gross domestic product has stymied local economic productivity. The island can no longer look to tourism to add to their GDP.

Because of this drop in GDP, food shortages on the island have become more severe than in recent memory. And Cuban cooks are feeling the effects.

Cubans must stand in line for hours at markets with no guarantees that the ingredients that they want will be available.

This way of living is especially hard for Cuban cooks, like 39-year-old Yuliet Colón. For Colón, cooking is both a creative expression and a stress reliever. “The kitchen is my happy place, where I am calmer and I feel better,” she recently revealed to the Associated Press.

Yuliet Colón is one of the creators of a Facebook page called Recetas del Corazón that has changed the cooking game for thousands of Cubans.

Now, thanks to Colón and other curious and generous Cuban cooks like her, Recipes from the Heart is now 12,000 members strong.

The goal of the page is to help struggling Cuban cooks cope with food shortages. Members of the page share creative recipes, tips, and food substitutions. Launched in June of 2020, the page was an instant success. Its success proves that Cubans have been desperate to find ways to adapt their cooking to the post-COVID-era.

To AP News, Yuliet Colón laments about the lack of rice, beans, cheese, fruit, and, most of all, eggs. “What I like the most is making desserts, but now it’s hard to get eggs, milk or flour,” she revealed.

The brightside is, however, that Cuban cooks are finally able to share food-related tips and tricks with each other on a much larger scale than they were before the internet became more widespread in the country.

Now that many Cubans have access to communication apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, they can now connect with one another and make the most of what they have–however little that may be.

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