Cuban Lockdown: What Does It Mean For Our industry?
Parque Central in Havana, Cuba.
It’s been a while since our last blog post and we must apologise to our dear readers for taking such a long break. It goes without saying that we’ve been hard at work during these times to ensure that all our customers receive the care and attention they deserve. We have been inundated with questions about the situation in Cuba and the prospect of your favourite cigars being widely available in the near future, so we thought it would be appropriate to give an account of the situation in Cuba and share our perspective.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN CUBA?
Certainly, enough time has been spent by us all staring at exponential graphs and hearing about flattening the curve, so we shall spare our readers the prospect of more of that. The situation in Cuba stands at 1,685 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 69 deaths (source: www.cubadebate.cu). That is a relatively small number of casualties and a testament to the world-famous Cuban healthcare system. Our friends who live in Havana tell us of daily visits by doctors to ensure the wellbeing of each family and the progress of those who are unwell.
The few foreigners who decided to stay - or couldn’t make it out of the country before lockdown - are not allowed to leave their hotels or casas particulares. Food shortages and long queues in front of supermarkets are an everyday occurrence for Cubans, so not much has changed there. There is, however, a serious worry that the country will soon run out of food.
There are, of course, no tourists in sight, so our beloved Casas del Habano, in the capital, have had to reinvent themselves as local supermarkets, selling coffee beans and rum to those who are lucky enough to afford it.
By all accounts, cigar factories in Havana and the rest of the country are still operational, so the good news, for all of us, is that Cuban cigars are still being produced. The 2020 harvest, which we were lucky enough to witness this February in San Luis y Martinez, is one of the best in the last 20 years. Due to the lack of imported fertilisers and chemical pesticides - a result of Washington's tightened sanctions on Cuba - crops have been grown virtually 100% organic. Just like in the good old days.
Quality control at the legendary El Laguito cigar factory.
Are cigar shortages likely?
Yes and no. For example, most of the stock allocated to Spain and France - the two single largest Havanas importers in the world - is traditionally shipped via the cargo space on Iberia and Air France passenger flights. 5ta Avenida, the official importer for Germany, Austria and Poland, is known to ship its stock by sea freight, via Hamburg. With all these logistical channels coming to a standstill, new stock arriving into those markets - and virtually all others - has effectively been halted.
Cohiba, the most coveted cigar brand in the world, has been in short supply ever since its launch. If you are a big Cohiba fan, our advice would be to secure what you can, while you still can. Nobody knows how long it will take for things to go back to how they were, if at all!
On a positive note, our warehouse in Switzerland, as well as our supplier's network, is incredibly well-stocked. Let this be an opportunity for us all to go back to some of the true classics in the Habanos portfolio. Cuba produces the best tobacco in the world and, with it, the very finest cigars. Take this time to reacquaint yourself with something you haven’t tried in a while or try something new altogether. Most of the selection, below, comes with at least 5 years of ageing!
Travelling to Cuba
If, like us, you are wondering when we will be able to return to Cuba, let’s be hopeful. With a bit of luck, this global hysteria will soon pass and the world that awaits us will be a better and fairer one.
Travelling to Cuba is every cigar aficionado’s dream: a metaphorical return to the motherland. November is the time for the annual Encuentro Amigos de Partagas, known simply as the Partagas Festival. We hope to be there to see all our friends. As charming as these virtual smokes are, they're a far cry from the terrace of the Hotel Nacional.
For more fascinating cigar-related articles, head over to our Cigar Blog: