Government Seized Hitchens’ Cuban Cigars

The Hill reports that the U.S. government once seized a bunch of Cuban cigars that belonged to Christopher Hitchens as he flew into the country. Seriously, isn’t it time to lift that absurd embargo of Cuba? You want to help make that country a less closed society, travel and trade are the best ways to do it.

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  • Michael Heath

    I had a box of Cuban cigars in my briefcase when I came back from a trip to Scotland, Cohibas IIRC which were a gift. I was standing by the turnstile waiting for my checked baggage when the sniffing dogs were walking around; I wasn’t sure if they were trained to spot stogies or not. And then I thought there’s no way these dogs could distinguish a Cuban from another country of origin; but still, we all know in this venue law enforcement often seeks ways to invade our privacy.

  • ambulocetacean

    Clinton did away with all/most of the Cuba-style sanctions on Vietnam, didn’t he? It’s several decades past time that the US did the same with Cuba.

    And people should stop calling it the “Cuban Missile Crisis”. It was the Turkish-Italian Missile Crisis. After all, Kennedy started it by putting missiles in Turkey and Italy.

  • Michael Heath

    ambulocetacean writes:

    Clinton did away with all/most of the Cuba-style sanctions on Vietnam, didn’t he?

    An instructive point as Viet Nam’s interests are increasingly tied to being allied to U.S. interests as they compete with China in the South China Sea.

    Our own history with China is also a compelling argument to encourage trade and cultural exchanges with Cuba.

  • carlsonjok

    Seriously, isn’t it time to lift that absurd embargo of Cuba?

    Not as long as Florida is a swing state.

  • ‘Tis Himself

    As long as the Miami Cubans keep pretending that as soon as Castro dies then the clock will turn back to 1958, then there will be idiotic sanctions on Cuba.

  • Olav


    You want to help make that country a less closed society, travel and trade are the best ways to do it.

    What makes people think the US government (read: corporations) want to help Cuba become a less closed society? They just want own Cuba, like they did before. And if they can’t have it…

  • Robofish

    The silliest thing is that (as Ed suggests) the embargo on Cuba only helps keep the Castros in power, as it allows them to put all the blame for the country’s economic problems on the United States. If it was lifted, it would become obvious that Cuba is a poor country not because of the embargo, but because of its government. So if you want to bring down the Castro regime, you should support lifting the embargo. But for some people, their prejudices just won’t let them follow that simple logic.

  • ambulocetacean

    Michael Heath,

    When I get time I’ll read that article through properly, but a couple of things already have me scratching my head…

    In 1979, China itself invaded Vietnam, to keep Vietnam from marching through Cambodia to Thailand.

    Vietnam was going to invade Thailand? And China’s invasion wasn’t because a) it hated Vietnam to begin with; and b) the Vietnamese were routing the Khmer Rouge?

    Vietnam was now diplomatically isolated, stuck in a quagmire in Cambodia and burdened by back-breaking poverty, largely as a result of its own militarism.

    Vietnam’s poverty in 1979 wasn’t even a little bit to do with the annihilation of much of the country and its infrastructure by the US military?

    That’s like saying that Evander Holyfield’s ear was damaged as a result of its aggression towards Mike Tyson’s teeth.

  • “You want to help make that country a less closed society, travel and trade are the best ways to do it.”

    Not while Castro is still capable of launching an invasion of the U.S.! If not for Chuck Norris, the one man army of KKKristian retribution & commie killin’, Mikhail Rostov and his band of evil cubanothugs woulda overrun Miami and using it for a base, the rest of MurKKKa! (Unimpeachable source:

    I just wish that Mr. Norris had been available when Tony Montero and HIS band of evil cubanothugs used the Mariel Boatlift to invade Miami’s drug bidneth. Come to think of it, Tony was a wicked good capitalist in the best Robbing Hood tradition, taking from everyone and giving to himself.

    And Santeria witchdoctors, shut up, that’s why!!

  • wheatdogg

    Many of the restrictions revolve around the ban of spending US dollars within Cuba. Technically, US citizens are not exactly banned from entering China; there are special dispensations for officially sanctioned visits. But for mere tourism, you can enter on the sly through another country. As there are no direct flights between the US and Cuba, you have to enter through another country. Cuba, for its part, does not ban Americans from entering, nor do the intermediate countries give a shit.

    Once there, you cannot spend any dollars there, according to US law. (Though I don’t understand how anyone in the USA would know if you did. Cubans sure don’t mind.) But, you can convert greenbacks into euros or pounds, then do your traveling and buy your stuff (cigarros, por ejemplo) in country.

    Americans should also ask the Cuban immigration officer not to stamp a visa directly onto a page of your passport, since US immigration folks would probably report you once you re-enter the States. They reportedly are willing to oblige by stamping the visa on a separate slip of paper, which you can remove from your passport and hide somewhere.

    And obviously, smoke those cigars before entering the States.

    One of my friends has visited Cuba this way, and I’m considering trying it myself sometime. So, I’ve done some research.

    The restrictions are stupid, to say the last, more than 50 years after the Revolución.

  • Chris from Europe

    Let’s hope they remember the behavior of the US for a long time.

  • But, but, but…. Collective punishment is so biblical! Those Cuban people deserve to suffer for, uh, doing such a bad job of choosing their dictators.

    Nationalism is evil!

  • davem

    Travel agents here urge everyone to go to Cuba ‘before Fidel dies’, so that we get to see Cuba before its culture is drowned by Americana.

    The oddest thing is that in ‘the land of the free’, which keeps trumpeting how it brings freedom to the World, doesn’t even allow its own citizens to freely travel wherever they like.

  • caseloweraz

    Curiously, davem, that’s exactly what Phil Ochs said, er, sang, back about 1968.

    If anyone’s interested in following up, the song is “William Worthy”.

  • caseloweraz

    I don’t know how effective that ban on cigars is (not a smoker), but one fellow at a company I used to work for always had a box of Romeo y Julietas handy.

  • Seriously, isn’t it time to lift that absurd embargo of Cuba?

    Not as long as Florida is a swing state.

    That, and while Castro is still alive, it’s more than their lives are worth than to give him the chance of declaring any kind victory against the United States. The well-being of millions of ordinary Cubans pales into to insignificance compare to that possibility.

  • kantalope

    Are you mad? The embargo has been a huge success. Just think how long Castro would have ruled without it!!!11

  • Tsu Dho Nimh

    To travel to Cuba – fly out of Mexico (Merida or Mexico City), with Euros or Canuckistan dollars, on a round trip ticket.

    The Mexican passport staff will stamp a piece of paper with your exit visa, the Cubans will stamp it with the entry visa, and when you come back to Mexico they take it out of your passport and toss it in the trash.

    I understand the bookstores are excellent.