Latin America & Caribbean

US boost for Cuban cigar festival

Cigar sommelier Ivonne de La Puente, 47, smokes a cigar during the XVII Habanos Festival in Havana, February 23, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The festival is the first since trade restrictions were relaxed between the US and Cuba

Cuba's annual cigar festival is getting under way in the capital Havana - with American visitors able to take cigars home legally for the first time in decades.

A thaw in US-Cuban relations means American smokers will be able to stock up on products worth up to $100 (£65).

Havana cigars have been banned in the US for more than 50 years under the terms of a trade embargo.

Hundreds of visitors are expected at the week-long festival.

Despite the recent rapprochement between Washington and Havana, most Americans are still not allowed to travel to the Caribbean island.

However some US citizens, including relatives of Cubans or academics, are allowed to visit and take advantage of the new rules.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hundreds of people gathered for the festival
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A jury member pays attention during a cigar sommelier contest
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A Montecristo Cuban cigar box is displayed during the XVII Habanos Festival in Havana
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Assembling a cigar at the festival
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Cuba's cigars are considered the finest in the world

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