End of cigar, rum ban brings mixed reaction from Cubans

Bay area residents are divided over the benefits of more open trade with Havana.

Starting Monday, you'll be able to bring as many Cuban cigars and bottles of rum home as you want.

The Obama administration announced Friday a new round of executive actions designed to increase trade and travel with the communist island. And this is the one many Americans have been waiting for — no more restrictions on the island's famed rum and cigars, according to USA Today.

This has garnered mixed reactions from the local Cuban community.

“Some like it, some don’t. I think this will be positive in the long run. People might not see it now but in the long run, it will be good,” says Cuban-American Hermes.

Hermes left his family in Cuba three years ago when he came to the United States in search of a better life.

Now, working at a Cigar shop in Ybor City, he says President Barack Obama's decision to lift restrictions on Cuban rum and cigars is what the communist island needs.

“Right now, it will benefit the Cuban government, Cuban people won’t see the money right now
but there is opportunity and there is hope,” says Hermes.

While many like Hermes are hopeful about the removal of the five-decade ban on Cuban rum and alcohol, some Cuban-Americans 10News WTSP spoke to in Ybor City aren't pleased about this change.

“I don't agree with it because It's not going to benefit the American cigar industry nor will it benefit the Cuban citizens. It's just going to the pocketed by Fidel Castro and the dictatorship and it will just feed the communist nation,” says Cuban-American Charles Del Campo.

Campo, who was born in Cuba, says the accessibility of Cuban cigars in the U.S., might lead people to stop going to these local cigar shops.

“Everyone is going to start buying either in the black market or in the or traveling to Cuba, so it will put these businesses in ruins,” says Campo.

Other Ybor City cigar rollers we spoke with had the opposite reaction.

They say Ybor's biggest industry is tourism, not tobacco. In fact, they welcome any competition.


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