As Cuban Embargo Fizzles, the Battle for the Cigar Industry Smolders

True to its name, Nicaragua's Puro Humo cigar festival is hazy as hell. The smoke is thick enough to slice. Flames flicker and fade in the darkness. Figures drift through the fumes. Grinning businessmen gnaw on smoldering cigars. Bow-tied waiters scurry in the half-light. And beautiful women in sequined dresses shimmer in the smog like oracles of Delphi.

Tonight, their prophecy couldn't be more positive.

"Tobacco production has surpassed sheer industry, transforming the entire way of life here in this part of Nicaragua," a female MC in a tight black dress tells the crowd. "Tonight, we would like to proclaim to the whole world that we are now number one in the global tobacco industry!"

See also: The End of the Embargo Could Kill Miami's Cuban Cigar Industry

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Michael E. Miller