Cigar roller presses rolled cigars during the elaboration process
Havana - AFP
Cigar aficionados will pay tribute to Winston Churchill in Havana Monday as the world's largest Cuban cigar festival opens with a nod to the late leader's favorite brand of cheroot.
The 17th Habanos festival will honor Churchill's beloved "Romeo and Juliet" cigars at the opening of the five-day event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the former British prime minister's death.
Churchill, who died on January 24, 1965, visited Cuba twice in his life -- once in 1895 when he was a young military officer and again in 1946 after leading Britain through World War II.
Habanos has no fewer than three types of cigars named after the British leader, and the company's Gran Reserva Cosecha 2009 Wide Churchills will be showcased at Monday's opening ceremony, which will also feature a performance from Cuba's Latin Grammy-winning singer Descemer Bueno.
The festival comes as the Cuban cigar industry possibly looks forward to a booming future following the historic announcement in December by US and Cuban leaders of moves to normalize relations after half a century.
Barack Obama's administration authorized US travelers to Cuba to bring back up to $100 worth of rum and tobacco although the figure is largely symbolic as a relatively small number of Americans are able to visit the communist-ruled island.