Why is it illegal to possess Cuban cigars or is it?

I have always wondered why Americans cannot possess Cuban cigars or fly to Cuba from the USA? Or is that true since America is big on “freedom”? I’m not sure I would want to go there except for the weather but I have always wondered what the real reason is.
If America is so big on freedom why not allow it’s citizens to do as they wish? I realize the Government doesn’t like Cuba but why take that freedom from the citizens?
Or does freedom only apply in certain conditions?
We have been allowed to go to Cuba for years and buy stuff from Cuba (cigars) and we don’t have a problem with it in CANADA.
And has the embargo hurt Cuba by doing this to them?
They seem to survive but I wouldn’t want to live there. But there are many dictatorships around the world and Americans are allowed to go to those places, I think.

I always wondered about the legality of bringing them in from Mexico. If you go to any of the border towns you’ll notice they sell them in just about every souvenir shop and liquor store.

AIUI, an American who buys a Cuban cigar (or any other Cuban product) in a country where it is perfectly legal to do so, may be prosecuted upon his return to the U.S. I think the maximum penalty is a $250,000 fine and ten years in prison. I’ve never heard of anyone being prosecuted, but it’s theoretically possible.

But why?

From here:

Well, yeah. Otherwise, it is indistiguishable from anarchy.

The simple answer is that it’s against the law.

Why is it against the law? The U.S. hopes to remove the Castros from power by upholding an economic embargo. I could speculate on how successful this has been, or to suggest that ‘Freedom’ doesn’t mean what some people think it means, but such comments would be more suited to Great Debates than to General Questions.

This Just In… America is not as free as it claims to be.

We’re allowed to go to North Korea, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen (I’ve been to all of the above and listed them on my immigration form upon return to the US).

The Cuba restrictions obviously do nothing - Castro has outlasted many US Presidents.

Maybe someday America will be as free as other Western democracies.

Ironically, the Cuban embargo drives the demand for Cuban cigars way up. It’s higher than it would be if they were just one of many cigar choices… but because they are illegal and taboo they have a much greater appeal.

Not only are the cigars illegal, so are the cigar boxes. I attempted to sell a genuine Cuban cigar box on eBay, my listing was pulled within an hour and I was sent a very stern email about selling stuff from Cuba. I acquired the box from a friend that visited a cigar shop in Vancouver B.C., the shop keeper gave him the box after he bought the last cigar. He was quite surprised when I told him he could have been arrested when he brought the box into the US.
For those that may have a problem with the possession of something from Cuba, I am no longer in possession of it.

Funny how that works because you can get a bottle of Coca-Cola, smoke a Marlboro and I’m pretty sure you can fly to Cuba from Canada on a US based carrier.

There are rules on how the embargo works. Since it’s designed to avoid buying Cuban goods (and thus transferring dollars to the Cuban economy), it won’t stop Cubans from buying US goods (since that takes hard currency out of Cuba, in theory weakening their economy). However, I don’t think any of the brands you mention sell directly to Cuba; their products are just purchased by a middleman (not the Middleman; he’s too busy) and then resold. The US has no jurisdiction over a Mexican who buys US goods and resells them to Cuba.

There appears to be only one airline that flies directly to Cuba from the US – Florida Coastal – and that only flies to Guantanamo (which is US territory). Americans who want to fly to Cuba need to go to Canada or Mexico and fly from there – and you do need approval.

What is this? A fifth graders essay on “What freedom means to me?”

Its a frigging trade embargo. They happen. You also dont have the freedom to own child pronography or drive a car that runs on uranium.

>The Cuba restrictions obviously do nothing - Castro has outlasted many US Presidents.

Nothing? Cuba’s economy is destroyed and short of a full inviasion by the US Military, one of the Castros will be in power. Its a dictatorship that controls almost all aspects of peoples lives. Political prisoners are routinely jailed. Its one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere and proof that communism doesnt really work.

So, what youre saying is that unless we coddle dictators and buy their products which gives them profit so they can be weathlier dictators then we lack freedom? Right. Go live in Cuba for a couple of years and tell me what you think.

Really, what you want is anarchy. If you want to make grand statments about the state of the US then this “question” should be moved to Great Debates or IMHO.

Yep, free to post all the Holocaust Denial we want. Just like every other western democracy.

In practice, they seize what they find. A friend of mine bought a couple of Cuban cigars in Canada and was caught with them when returning back to a US airport. He was taken to a room where they destroyed them in front of him, by running them through the garbage disposal. The agent said “And now let’s shed a tear for how expensive this cigar was.” My friend was terrified at the time, but later found it kind of hilarious.

If you question the effectiveness of the economic embargo…go to Cuba and take a look. Prior to the Cuban revolution in 1956 and the following U.S. embargo, Cuba was a thriving Caribbean island country and a favorite tourist destination of Americans. You could take a ferry from Miami to Cuba. Havana was a bigger gambling destination than Las Vegas.

Since the revolution, there have been more and more immigrants from Cuba into south Florida, than ever before.

Actually, from what I can find, it’s only illegal to import with regards to Cuban goods. Since you were not the “importer”, you probably would have only been an accessory after the fact.

I’ve smoked Cuban cigars in Europe and Latin America. They seemed nice enough, but I’m not really much of a cigar smoker to tell you if it was transcendent. A friend of mine is a tobacco buyer for a large cigar manufacturer, and according to him, the best cigars no longer come from Cuba, mainly due to poor quality control standards.

Exactly. The embargo has done nothing to help remove the Castro’s from power. Instead, it has impoverished the nation, affecting mostly the poorer citizens.

I think it’s actually proof that an embargo by a powerful enough party can impoverish a nation, regardless of its goverment type.

What I think is that limiting the ability of a country to do commerce is going to affect the working class first, and the elite last… also, there is no reason to go and live in Cuba to understand that it’s poor. It’s embargoed, after all.
Actually, the embargo has a bit of a countereffect: it allows the goverment to claim that the lack of services, products, etc., is due to the embargo; lucky they have a good comunist goverment, otherwise the people would be in a far worse shape.

I agree with all you’ve said. Things aren’t that bad in Cuba, and may actually have been pretty good if they weren’t bullied by their big neighbour. The people are healthy and educated.

I know what you mean. It explains why so many Floridians work so hard to escape to Cuba every year.