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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Culture

Not all cigars are habanos

Posted March 03, 2003 by publisher in Cuba Culture.
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The 5th International Habano Festival opens with the participation of some 900 businesspeople, distributors and specialized professionals from 50 countries

BY JOAQUIN ORAMAS, Granma

All Habanos are Cuban but, on the other hand, not all cigars produced in Cuba are Habanos.

Habano is the term of origin reserved for a selection of the most renowned brands made from tobacco leaves that have been carefully selected from areas where the soil and climate are perfect for cultivating the valuable plant.

This is the closest we come to defining the characteristics of a product that is one of few that, without doubt, can be called “the best in the world”. And it is precisely because of this fact that the 5th International Habano Festival is taking place in the Cuban capital, bringing together some 900 businesspeople, the world’s exclusive distributors for Habanos, cultural figures and personalities from other spheres who, at the close of this edition of Granma International, have had the opportunity to engage in beneficial exchanges throughout the event.

The Festival has become a traditional occasion for cigar aficionados throughout the world. But certain events within the Festival program define its special importance. One of them is the International Seminar analyzing some of the problems of the cigar industry such as smuggling and other illegal activities associated with this important product.

Equally relevant is the Trade Fair in which 29 companies from Cuba, Spain, France, the U.K., Hong Kong and Gran Cayman are participating, representing a selection of Habanos “casas”, exclusive distributors and other traders associated with the world’s best tobacco and a product that is sold in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Foreign Trade Minister Raúl de la Nuez affirmed that the large attendance at the trade fair demonstrates the growing interest in the event, not just from producers and traders, but also smokers and aficionados.

Antonio Carricarte, president of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, explained that despite the international situation, tobacco, particularly cigars, remains stable, distributors are efficiently organized stocks and retail sales normal.

A trip to the tobacco plantations in the western province of Pinar del Río is essential for the cigarfest’s participants to see the age-old culture and practice of tobacco growing and cigar making in Cuba. From sowing methods, the development of the finest seedlings and the cultivation process through to selecting the five types of black Cuban tobacco leaves by workers whose skills cannot be matched by machines.

The most prestigious brands of cigars are on display during the festival plus other cultural activities and experiential exchanges, culminating in the Gala Dinner to present the Habano Man of the Year Award and an auction of humidors. For the last four years, this event has raised funds in the region of several million dollars for the Cuban public health sector.

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