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Political passions in the Cuban community run fervent and high. Cuban exiles were people that were forced to flee their homeland as a result of Fidel Castro seizing control of the government in 1959. Cubans greatly differ from other Hispanic groups in terms of why they migrated to the United States. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans came to the United States is search of greater economic opportunities. Cubans on the other hand were forced to leave Cuba due to their political beliefs and viewpoints. Those who opposed Castro's political views were looked upon as dissenters and were, in turn, forced out of Cuba.
Cubans migrated to the United States in several different waves. The first wave of Cubans came in 1959; those that came then were mostly Batistianos, Cubans that were affiliated with the overthrown Fulgencio Batista. The next wave came between 1961 and 1962; this was when most of the major industries in Cuba began to become nationalized enterprises. Those that fled were predominantly doctors, lawyers, business people and skilled workers. Perhaps the largest migration occurred in 1980 with the Mariel Boatlift. In April 1980, due to growing discontent, Fidel Castro declared that anyone that wanted to leave could leave the island. Recently, other waves of migration have occurred. Most notably, between 1992 and 1994, thousands of Cubans attempted to reach the shores of the United States in rafts (balsas) and overcrowded boats.
As a result of the large number of Cuban exiles in Miami, a certain exile culture has formed. Cubans that had to flee their homeland because of Fidel Castro, and his regime, possess great discontent and intolerance toward Castro. The anti-Castro point of view is prevalent in Miami and other areas that Cubans inhabit. The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) is a powerful exile group that spearheads many efforts to enforce and uphold sanctions in order to expedite Castro's removal from power. This organization and others like it have supported trade embargoes on Cuba and all its national products. Since 1960, an embargo has been in effect on Cuban products. These embargoes are today supported by exiles who claim that the blockade is against Castro and not against Cuba. With the embargo in effect, it has been, and still is, illegal to buy, sell, trade or import Cuban products. In turn, it has been illegal to import Cuban Cigars.
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"Cuban Cigars Brands and Companies." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Nov 2019
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The significance that Cuban cigars have on exile culture is a very symbolic one. The most famous and historically significant Cuban cigars: Cohibas, MonteCristos, Partagas, Romeo y Julieta, El Rey Del Mundo, and Coronas, just to name a few, hold much hidden meaning behind them. To Cuban exiles, these Cigars present two vastly distinct emotional counterpoints.
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There is another perspective that must be addressed. While the Cigars may bring back bittersweet memories they also serve as a grim reminder of the Cuba of today. While the reputation and distinction of Cuban cigars as the world's finest has not changed, much has changed in Cuba. This very fact strikes close to home and close to the heart in the minds of many Cubans. Those in exile vigorously support an embargo on Cuba. While it may be difficult for some to comprehend this notion, exiles feel that an embargo is what is needed to weaken Castro's regime. The Cuban cigar is an emblem, a very fitting icon, of both Cuba and the embargo upon Cuban goods. By blockading and placing an embargo upon Cuba, exiles hope to weaken Castro and his regime to the point of collapse. In turn, the Cuban cigar is off limits to many here in America.
The Cuban cigar's role in exile culture is that of a symbolic scapegoat. The cigar companies and manufacturers in Cuba are government controlled. Therefore, by placing an embargo against Cuban cigars, Cuban exiles feel as if they are placing an embargo upon Cuba's present regime which, in their opinion, has oppressed and deprived many exiled Cubans of Cuba. Passions run high and politics run rampant in Cuban exile communities throughout the Unites Sates. Consequently, the Cuban cigar has played a role in the development of this culture by serving as something that Cubans could look upon and agree on. By blockading Cuban cigars, made by government-controlled factories, exiles are blockading the government and hoping to move closer to reclaiming Cuba's past glory.