Manuel Quesada puffs one of his range of creations — a funky-looking thing called a Q D’etat — as he tells a story about the Cubans getting under his skin. It was at a dinner last year in Germany, when Cigar Journal honoured him with a lifetime achievement award. Everyone rose for a standing ovation, except the people at the Cubatabaco table, the representatives of the state-run monopoly. To be fair, the presenter had just recounted how the Quesada family had to flee the island in 1960, their business having been seized by gun-toting forces loyal to Fidel Castro. It was an uncomfortable few seconds, ending only when an executive from another table scurried over and persuaded the Cubans to get to their feet. "They were shamed into standing up," Quesada says, stewing over it. "I consider myself to be a kind and peaceful man, but do not p*** me off. That’s why I don’t go to Cuba. Because they will p*** me off." He’s in his family’s hazy cigar lounge in Santiago, the colonial city in th...

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