Local Cuban-born doctor says lift of cigar ban good sign

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Cigars and rum — two items associated with Cuba. Starting Monday, for the first time in over 50 years, Americans can bring as much of both home after traveling abroad.

In January 2015, the Obama administration partially lifted the ban, which allowed people to bring $100 worth of Cuban cigars and rum back to the states.

But now with the administrations decision to totally lift the ban on Friday, there is no limit — which is good for cigar and rum lovers, but also U.S. and Cuban relations.

“Really, if I tell you that you can’t have something, you’re going to want it that much more,” said Garrett Czarecki of Havana House in Boardman. “It’s good tobacco. I’ve smoked Cuban cigars, I’ve smoked quite a few of them. But at the same time, in the end, it’s all tobacco.”

This goes beyond just cigars and rum for one Cuban-American living in the Valley.

Dr. Milton Sanchez-Parodi of Poland moved from Cuba to the U.S. in 1962. He said he still returns to the island regularly and hopes this change gets the countries closer to regular relations.

President Obama hopes to create such a good relationship with Cuba that future administration won’t want to scale back ties.

“It’s a positive step in renewing normal relations with a country we should’ve renewed relations with a long time ago,” Sanchez-Parodi said.

These reforms also help the medical field, which are now granting access to Cuban drugs to be sold in the U.S.

Also, American and Cuban doctors can do joint medical research.

“Such as the cancer vaccine,” Sanchez-Parodi said. “Such as Roswell Park [Cancer Institute], which really wants to bring in to treat lung cancer. And Heberprot-P — that can treat diabetic foot ulcers. We don’t have those products here now.”

Despite the changes, the United States’ embargo against Cuba remains in place. Dr. Sanchez-Parodi said he hopes that is the next step for the two countries.