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Cigar Smokers Head to Cuba for International Cigar FairAired July 2, 2000 - 2:40 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASIEH NAMDAR, CNN ANCHOR: While many countries are trying to stop people from smoking, Cuba is promoting its tobacco industry. The island's fine cigars are prized all over the world.
Cubavision reports that smokers looking for an even more intense experience can head to Cuba for the annual International Havana Cigar Fair.
COMPAY SEGUNDO, MUSICIAN (through translator): The charming thing about smoking, if you are smoking a good cigar, is that it's delightful. You enjoy it when you smoke. You are inspired, because smoking a cigar gives you inspiration.
MARTA CARBAJAL, CUBAVISION (voice-over): Just like Cuban musician Compay Segundo, many people in the world don't hide the mystical pleasure that smoking a Havana cigar provides for them. Today, it's not enough for Havana cigar lovers to buy or sell them in shopping centers all over the world. They also travel to Cuba every year to participate in the International Havana Cigar Fair. Then the party really gets smoking.
EDUARDO REYES, FARMER (through translator): They see how we produce what they sell in the stands. They see it in the fields, in the drying process, in the process of benefiting the leaf, in the fermentation process. They are seeing all of the process.
CARBAJAL: In a matter of minutes, skillful hands roll the coveted leaves. Several artists present a work to honor the cigars, and prestigious trade firms exhibit items and humadors of all shapes and sizes.
RICARDO CABRISAS, MINISTER OF COMMERCE (through translator): The promotion and publicity of cigars in fairs like this favors not only the opening of new markets, but also the introduction of new Cuban brands, which is the policy we've followed in recent years to link our clients to Cuban producers.
CARBAJAL: Talking about business, the Habanos SAI Corporation (ph), has now sold 50 percent of its stocks for $500 million to Altades (ph), the leader of cigar sales on the international market.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I think that the strength of this union between Altades and Habanos will give both of us more he possibilities of a joined form, and participation in the world.
CARBAJAL: A special auction closes the Havana Cigar Festival every year. The money collected in the auction goes to Cuban public health. Business executives pay thousands of dollars to buy unique pieces on sale, perhaps to take back as souvenir or to fill a part of their investment.
The prestige of the Cuban cigar is reaffirmed with a festival every year.
CABRISAS (through translator): Absolutely, undoubtedly, we can find many cigars. But a Havana cigar is unique.
CARBAJAL: Mara Carbajal, Cubavision International for CNN WORLD REPORT.
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