Havana alleges servile and perverse bid to back US embargo but Bolsonaro government cites strictly technical criteria for ban
The Cuban government has accused Brazils far-right president of depriving Brazilian smokers of the best Habano cigars in the world as part of a servile and perverse US-backed campaign against the communist-run island.
And some suspect that hostility lay behind recent moves by Anvisa, Brazils answer to the Food Standards Agency, to ban the sale of Cubas flagship Cohiba cigars. The decision was reportedly based on the discovery that one batch of imported Cohibas contained an excess of sobric acid.
Cubas foreign trade minister, Rodrigo Malmierca Daz, slammed the ban on Tuesday.
A ridiculous pretext, he tweeted, adding: Perhaps [Bolsonaros government] was given some instruction from Washington to contribute to the blockade of Cuba.
A journalist for Cubas state-run newspaper, Granma, branded Brazils move a crude, servile and perverse manoeuvre which was suspiciously in tune with United States governments policy to intensify its criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade of the Caribbean island.
The journalist insisted only the finest tobacco leaves were used to make Cohiba cigars, which were created in 1966 for Cubas then leader, Fidel Castro.
There was also criticism of the move in Brazil, with one leftwing website claiming the totally political and ideological ban was clearly linked to Bolsonaros vulgar opposition to communism.
In a statement to the Folha de So Paulo newspaper Anvisa said its analysis of cigars was routine and applied strictly technical criteria.
The director of the Brazilian importer whose Cohibas had fallen foul insisted his company handled only 100% natural products.
Relations between Havana and Braslia have soured dramatically since Bolsonaro took power.
Even before the far-right populists inauguration, Havana announced it would recall thousands of Cuban doctors working in Brazil as part of a health program launched under its former leftist president Dilma Rousseff.
In one interview Bolsonaro hinted he was considering closing Brazils embassy in Havana, although he has yet to follow through. What business is there to do with Cuba? he asked.
The presidents son, Eduardo who many regard as Brazils de facto foreign minister last year said he hoped Brazil could host an international tribunal to judge the crimes against humanity committed by the Cuban regime.