One of the most iconic figures in history is Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Much like his comrade Fidel Castro, Che had a deep connection to the cigar. Smoking cigars wasn’t merely just a means to pass time. No, it was deeper than that. It was a way to ease the strain that was felt from dealing with the dangers and uncertainty that polluted those times.
In fact, the importance of smoking was so ingrained into the culture that Che advised his guerrilla fighters to carry tobacco as an essential item in their backpacks. It offered a type of companionship for the soldiers during the moments of solitude. Che came across this companionship during his travels by boat to the shores of Cuba.
During his voyage he suffered from asthma attacks, which persisted during the marches ahead. It was then that a peasant suggested that he smoke ‘campana’ flowers to relieve his shortness of breath. Unfortunately it didn’t work. It did however introduce him to smoking his first cigar.
It was an almost immediate connection Che had experienced with his first cigar. This would be a relationship he would carry out until the end of his days. Despite having asthma, Che continued to smoke and justified this by saying it helped soothe his asthma attacks. Che, however, knew that to be untrue. As a doctor, he knew the implications involved.
Nevertheless, smoking a cigar became a habit the Argentine-born revolutionary adopted. After being appointed to higher positions within the Cuban government, Che continued to live a modest life just like the people he represented. He wouldn’t accept gifts or special privileges, except for books and cigars,
Because of his asthma, Che was forced to abstain from cigars for a period of time. He negotiated with the doctors to have one cigar a day. The doctors agreed but Che had other plans. He had a cigar rolled so ridiculously long that he could smoke it all day without violating the orders from the doctors. Talk about commitment. He took his love for cigars with him overseas to his next mission in Africa, which will be discussed more in the next article.