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Cubans, Tampa Cigar-Industry React to Elimination of $100 Limit on Goods

Cubans Split on Obama's Elimination of $100 Limit
Posted at 6:09 PM, Oct 14, 2016

Travel relations between the United States and Cuba are thawing out.Today President Barack Obama got rid of the $100 limit on Cuban goods. Now, travelers can bring back home as much rum and cigars as they want.

Some in the heart of the cigar industry, Ybor City are cheering on the news while others are concerned. Cuban rum carries its own prestige but Cuban cigars have America obsessed.

"They are the holy grail of cigars for lack of a better words," said Gilbert Martinez who manages Tabanero Cigars.

The elimination of the $100 limit means there's no limit in how much you can bring back.

"We are the only ones who cannot enjoy Cuban cigars," said Martinez, "It's about time we start enjoying it like everybody else."

However, he can't sell them since the embargo prohibits exchanging Cuban goods for money. Nonetheless, this executive action is angering some in the Cuban community. William Ochoa comes from a family of cigar rollers. Now, he hand rolls, non-Cubans, in Tampa.  He says this change isn't going to help Cubans living on the island.

"Bettering relations are only going to help the regime, not the people. That's politics. The conditions are going remain as they've been. Oppressed. Nothing to eat. A salary where you don't have enough to eat or to dress yourself," he said.

Despite his hesitation, Ochoa says this is a good thing for American travelers.Local historical researcher, Wallace Reyes is not sold on this change. He says this could open Pandora's Box. He expects to see the rise of a cigar black market in the U.S.

"At the minute that the first Cuban goes to Cuba and gets back. If they start that today then by Sunday you will have Cuban cigars invading the market," he said.

These cigars won't go for cheap

"It can be $12-15 or up to $295," said Reyes.

Despite which side they take in the debate, these men are all anxiously awaiting the future.