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Havana Cigars Tight Rap

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Message Steve Shapiro

This Christmas the Havana cigar may not be under the Christmas tree for many who had been expecting them.

Owing to the deadly feud between JFK and Fidel Castro, a branding of contraband was marked onto the Tabacalera Habano or Havana cigars making them not just contraband but banning Americans from smoking Cuban cigars while visiting outside the country.

Seeing this as unenforceable and ridiculous, most Americans not only ignored the warning about overseas indulgence, but many cigar smokers have bought Havana cigars by ordering over the internet without considering it as contraband.

In fact, the law read "any exchange of US dollars dealing with Cuba or financial trade over Cuban goods could only be accomplished through a fifth entity.' Interpreted as 1) from the Cuban Tabacalera Habano, 2) a legitimate wholesaler in another country using intermediary currency, 3) a retailer outside of Cuba and 4) a private party to 5) an American consumer. This was alright, for awhile. Then, in early 2009 the law was scrupulously changed without fanfare to state explicitly For and American to buy Cuban cigars was by no interpretation within permissible interpretation of the embargo.

That last clause was in response to unofficial arguments that President Clinton's Cuban trade exceptions for humanitarian reasons gave the right to trade without credit -" cash only deals -" medicine and agricultural goods. Previously, Cubans had no free world fruit, just canned goods from Rumania, for example. It was a humanitarian gesture that cracked open the door for Americans to buy Cuban cigars.

This interpretation of President Clinton's Cuban embargo exception may now be open to court action in so much as the recent seizure of Cuban cigars has resulted in over a billion cigars and from apparently very successful and probably influential people. Well, we shall see.

The caution from Homeland Security in the aftermath of an attempted smuggled bomb in a printer toner pack brought about the contraband confiscation of Cuban trade embargo cigars. And, by the way, Cuban made furniture is contraband, too.

After appeals to Congress, especially those members who smoke Cuban cigars, and who applauded President Clinton's embargo exceptions over agricultural goods, count as members of Congress willing to talk about lifting the Cuban cigar ban within the trade embargo, who simply say, "It's the Florida lobby."

There are many elements to this Cuban trade embargo. The issue over what some are calling "Castro's cigars,' are simply taking the money, medicine, Real Estate, automobile and machine parts embargo along with the cigar ban and rolling them up all together too tight.

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Steve Shapiro is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. As the Charter President of the Jr. United Nations, my motto against autocracy by siblings, parents, local constabulary or governments is 'in liberty is luxury.'

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