The legendary cuban Habanos, the excellent coffe and its world class Havana Club Rum, are part of Cuban identity.

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Cuban Cigars

Nobody can deny that Cuba has the supremacy of the tobacco industry. The famous Cigars, celebrated worldwide for its aroma and flavor, presence and quality, are coveted everywhere.

The History is very well-known: John F. Kennedy, former President of the United States, before signing the embargo against Cuba in 1963, ordered his assistant to buy all the cigars of Washington. He was an inveterate smoker. Nobody knows if Kennedy himself deceived the rigors of the blockade, acquiring Cigars in another market. But the truth is that all the obstinate.

American smokers have to constantly avoid the laws that harass the small neighboring country if they want to enjoy the exceptional aroma of Cuban cigars.
Since the tobacco was discovered by those who arrived from the Old Continent, Cuba was called the tobacco paradise, a myth that has stayed in time.

The essence of the difference between the Cuban tobacco and the ones cultivated in other regions of the planet is in fact the plant that is cultivated in lands that exist only in this country. The worldwide known Cuban Cigars are the best in their class because in them converge three ideal conditions for its existence: the land, the climate and the knowledge and abilities accumulated by the producers during centuries.

In the beginnings, the tobacco had some mystery. It was also used as medicine, food, for rites, as religious offering or as gift. Many people say it has miraculous powers.

The Discovery

Christopher Columbus wrote about tobacco in his diary. The residents from the primitive Cuba gave him some mallets of leaves that he didn’t know how to identify at that moment. Later on, he compared and verified them with other Indo American places: it was the tobacco, cultivated in the Caribbean and Latin America.

However, Cuba tobacco had a mystery. The magic of the Cigars begins in the plantations.

There is a long process that embraces the tobacco making that will end in the factories. The tobacconist is some sort of a goblin a person with a special talent, provided of secrets that he transmits to his family and generations. It is like a gift to communicate with the land and the seeds. Not everybody can be a tobacconist. It is necessary to have a master, talent, love and intuition.

The Cultivation

It consists of several stages: The preparation of the land, in which the ground is broken up several times until achieving slight and candid soils. They should be near a water source, since humidity is very important.

Another stage is the seed care, because the seed is one of the things that should be best preserved for the cultivation. It is also essential the cleaning of the land and the transplant to eliminate the weeds and to impede the devastation of the leaves.

The plantation must be taken care seriously, administering the proper amount of water, and protecting it from the excessive sun, the rain and the grass.

The harvest is the most important process. It requires a titanic effort and an extreme care. A violation in this step is paid expensive: never will have good tobacco. Little will be a twister able to do to convert the leaves in an aromatic and competitive product. There are secrets: the mature leaves, from down to up.

Two types of plants

In Cuba are cultivated the Corojo and the Creole. From the Corojo is extracted the gut and the cape. From the Creole is used the layer. The two varieties receive different treatments in the cultivation.

Cure to the air

The cut tobacco leaves are taken to the tobacco houses, its first laboratory after its cultivation in the plantations. But this process, at least in Cuba, is carried out in a natural way. It requires extreme surveillance so that the leaves are not damaged. It is necessary to take care of temperature, humidity and light. It is the final cure of the tobacco. Then the first fermentation takes place. The cure and dehydrated leaves are gathered in the mallets and they are transported to the fermentation house. They are piled up in big bundles of half meter high. They remain there during 30 days.

The removal of veins and stems and classification

The removal of veins and steams is a singular process. It requires a classification for classes and grades. The classification corresponds to three features: color, texture and leaf type. Then, the second purpose to purify the tobacco and to subject it to a chemical process that strengths even more its flavor and aroma, and eliminates the impurities accumulated in the previous phases.
The gut leaves should rest for some days. They are placed in shelves or parrilleras.

Then the tripe is packed in jute sacks, and the layers in some cubic packages called tercios, where they are aged during two years. Once property classified, they receive the necessary preservation and the periodic fumigation.

The cultivation and cure processes have concluded. The leaves are ready to be received in their new palace: the tobacco factory, to pass to the hands of the new magicians: the cigar markets.

The production

Now the next artists intervene: the cigar marker, the despalillador (the one who removes the veins and steams) and the tier. They are the ones that guarantee the flavor, the scent, the mark, the elegance and the art of packing the cigars. In their hands is where the Cuban tobacco becomes the best cigars of the world.

The twisting of the tobacco is the most important stage. The art of tobacco making is decisive in this process. The job is reserved for the best tobacconists, because a great deal of talent is required. There are lots of things to take into account such as the size, the gross and the appearance. Each branch has its exact measure and the tobaccos should pass by a space because each cigar band has its own measure.

The cigars are classified in five colors: light, red, light red, mature red and mature. Without its rings, the tobacco doesn’t have commercial and public value, although it smells and taste as the best in the world. You can choose the mark, the cigar band, the name, the series, the year, the legend. You will be able to smoke it at your favorite hours, because it will always be a splendid cigar, inimitable, the best tobaccos of the world.

All the cigars

  • Cohiba
  • Montecristo
  • Partagás
  • Romeo y Julieta
  • Hoyo de Monterrey
  • Vegas Robaina
  • Quintero y Hno.
  • Bolívar
  • Cuaba
  • El Rey del Mundo
  • Flor de Rafael González Márquez
  • Fonseca
  • H. Upmann
  • La Flor del Cano
  • La Gloria Cubana
  • Por Larrañaga
  • Punch
  • Quai d´Orsay
  • Ramón Allanes
  • Saint Luis Rey
  • Sancho Panza
  • Trinidad
  • San Cristóbal de La Habana
  • José L. Piedra
  • Belinda
  • Diplomáticos
  • Juan López
  • Status de Luxe
  • Troya
  • Gisper
  • Vegueros
  • Cabaña

Cuban Coffee

In Cuba a cup of black, strong coffee and a little sugar, is part of the daily life. ¨Who doesn´t like coffee is not a typical Cuban¨, some say because of the pleasure Cubans feel when having the dark drink.

However, the coffee is not originally from the Island. The French immigrants that settled down in the island after the Haitian Revolution at the end of the XVIII century brought it. They discovered excellent mountainous lands for its cultivation. Still today there are coffee properties ruins, which are unquestionable relics that time, have conserved for History. These ruins can be found in the Rosario Sierra, in the western part of Pinar del Río and in the Great Stone, very near the city of Santiago de Cuba.

In little time the coffee became one of the main economical lines of Cuba and in a coveted and popular product for all Cubans. Singers and songwriters have devoted songs and poems to the coffee.

Although the Cuban coffee production is not prolific, the quality of its grains is high and recognized by the international demanding market and have emerged brands such as Hola, Cubita, Turquino, Serrano,Extra Turquino and the claimed Crystal Mountain. Together with rum and cigars, the Cuban coffees form a trilogy of flavor that has travelled the world, and continues delighting palates in and outside the Island.

Cuban Religions

The Cuban State is lay. However, the national Constitution guarantees the religious freedom of all citizens and the equality, by law, of all religions and churches.

According to some sadistic, most of the citizens have some religious beliefs, although only the 15 % of the population practices some organized faith of a cult.

The Roman Catholic Church is the predominant religion. It arrived to Cuba with Christopher Columbus´ caravels, and during almost five centuries it maintained the hegemony as the official religion of the colonial regime. Later on, it was also the predominant religion of the Republic, from 1902 to 1959.

Nowadays, although it is the strongest due to its bonds with tradition and culture, it shares the spaces with evangelical churches that first came to the island in 1899, when the North American troops occupied the country.

Hundreds of temples and cult houses were erected all along the country, among them Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, as well as other denominations of Protestantism.

But in all Cuban municipalities there are parishes and catholic chapels that are distributed in 11 dioceses. The current archbishop of Havana is member of the Sacred School of Cardinals.

Catholicism and Christianity have, in Cuba, a distinctive feature. From the XVI century, the African slaves, when being evangelized, mixed the forms of their religious conscience with the dogmas and the Catholic liturgy.

The Yoruba and other African cultures mixed with the Catholic saints in a phenomenon called Syncretism, that still exist and characterizes a considerable portion of the inhabitants of the Island in the practice of cults and rules of which the Santería is one of the most spread.

In Cuba, there are also Jewish and Muslims.

The Santería in Cuba

It is very popular in Cuba. It arrives to the Island in the minds of the black slaves brought from Africa several centuries ago, during the Spanish colonization. They became the labor force to work in the sugar cane plantations, and they brought with them the beliefs in the African deities. It was a new and unknown religion for the Spaniards who implanted Catholicism in Cuba like in the rest of Latin America.

The black slaves had nothing but their divine obsession for their gods, symbols, rites, legends and myths when travelled hungry, nude and chained in the Spanish ships listening a different language, away from home to where they will never return.

In their moments of scarce rest, after long and inhuman work days in the sugar cane fields and under the inclement sun, the Afro-Cuban slaves worshipped their gods, feared punishments and gave their more secret cults, the only ones that could protect and provide them faith, hope and happiness I such as awful life.

With the passing of the years, the African symbols mixed with the Catholic religion, and a very interesting process of cultural and spiritual integration occurred.
Some explain this phenomenon due the mimicry, the fragility of their lives derived of so much oppression and the intimidation of the Spanish authorities. The slaves succumbed, even in their most internal and deeper beliefs, before the absolute supremacy of their masters.
Others affirm that it was a natural and human insert, a way of surviving the predominant culture, the only form of existence of their rites, gods and legends. They did it very wisely, giving and taking.

It was an intelligent metamorphosis after a long process, centuries. It was the only way that the national integration could takes place. It was the emergence of the Cuban nationality and without omitting its typical and essential elements.

The death of the slave’s gods didn’t happen, instead, the mixture of the oppressed and the dominant cultures as a result of a human, underlying, psychic, sensorial and unconscious evolution took plce.

The Cubans are the mixture of Spaniards, African and mulattos.

In the country there are several tendencies of religious practices of African origin, apart from others of the same origin that exist in the rest of the world. They have their resemblance and differences.

In Cuba, for instance the Santería was of Yoruba or Lukumí origin. It is the Rule of Ocha, known as the Vault of the Orishas.

The origins of this cult are strongly associated with Catholic religion and its most known virgins and saints.

The Regla Conga or Palo Monte origin is also practiced. They use the cult to symbols of Nature. It is a much extended religion.

Other African religions exist such as the Regla Abakúa of the Carabalíes, a secret sect of mutual help. The Vudú is also practiced.

The Cuban Santería is very associated with dance and music. Its influence is present among the musical tendencies, dance, or Fine Arts and theatre.

The religious symbols are used to identify postures, situations, scenarios and circumstances.

It is very difficult to calculate the number of followers or believers of these syncretism religions, because people have these beliefs inserted with other Catholic divinities to worship them or practice their rites in a non-visible way, in their interior world.

Nevertheless, this cult has been incredibly extended in the last years.
Some deities of Santería and their syncretism

  • Obatalá (Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes): Peace and Purity
  • Elegguá (San Antonio de la Padova)
  • Shangó (Santa Bárbara): Sexuality
  • Oggún (San Pedro): Work
  • Orula (San Francisco de Asís): Dance
  • Yemayá: (Nuestra Señora de Regla o Virgen de Regla): Life
  • Oshún: (Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre) Patron Saint of Cuba: Love and Sex
  • Babalú-Ayé San Lázaro

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