London, Feb 9(ANI): John F Kennedy ordered an aide to buy him as many Cuban cigars as possible just hours before he authorised the U.S. trade embargo, which subsequently made them illegal, it has been revealed.
The 34th President of the United States asked his head of press and fellow cigar smoker Pierre Salinger to obtain "1,000 Petit Upmanns" on February 6, 1962, so he could have them in his hands before they were deemed contraband.
Merely seconds after he was told the next morning that 1,200 of Cuba's finest export had been bought for him, he signed the decree to ban all of the communist state's products from the U.S.
The re-surfacing of the story, initially recounted by Salinger to Cigar Aficionado magazine in 1992, comes with the passing of the 50th anniversary of the embargo on Tuesday.
According to him, JFK called him into his office and said he needed "some help" to find "a lot of cigars". He wanted "1,000 Petit Upmanns" and needed them by "tomorrow morning".
"I walked out of the office wondering if I would succeed. But since I was a solid Cuban cigar smoker, I knew a lot of stores. I worked on the problem into the evening," the Daily Mail quoted Salinger as saying.
"The next morning, I walked into my White House office at about 8am, and the direct line from the President's office was already ringing. He asked me to come in immediately.
"'How did you do Pierre?' he asked, as I walked through the door. 'Very well', I answered. In fact, I'd gotten 1,200 cigars. Kennedy smiled, and opened up his desk.
"He took out a long paper which he immediately signed. It was the decree banning all Cuban products from the United States. Cuban cigars were now illegal in our country," Salinger said.
Kennedy announced the embargo on February 3, 1962, citing "the subversive offensive of Sino-Soviet communism with which the government of Cuba is publicly aligned."
It went into effect four days later at the height of the Cold War, a year after the failed CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion meant to oust communism from Cuba and eight months before Soviet attempts to put nuclear missiles on the island brought the two superpowers to the brink of war.
Washington already had some limited sanctions in place, but Kennedy's decision was the beginning of a comprehensive ban on U.S. trade with the island that has remained more or less intact ever since. (ANI)
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