President Miguel Díaz-Canel, first from the left, made a brief appearance during Day 1 of the XXIII Festival del Habano, Cuba’s annual cigar event. While the event takes place each year and government officials are often on hand for the gala dinner on Friday, this was a different experience altogether.

Habanos S.A. officials told halfwheel that Díaz-Canel was there to support the company and because this was the first time he was able to see the Festival as Cuba’s president. He took over that role in October 2019 and also serves as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba. He could have attended the Festival del Habano XXII in 2020, however, the 2021 and 2022 Festivals were canceled due to complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cuban government owns a 50 percent stake in Habanos S.A., which is the exclusive sales and distribution company for Cuban cigars around the world. The government also owns Tabacuba, which is responsible for the production of Cuban cigars from seed to smoke.

This year’s festival is expected to have an estimated 2,200 attendees including Habanos S.A.’s distributors around the world, prominent retailers, suppliers and partners such as S.T.Dupont, as well as journalists and consumers of Cuban cigars. The five-day event also includes a number of different seminars, a trade show with over 200 exhibitors and a variety of dinners, each of which is centered around a different brand, with this year’s list including the Bolívar, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta brands as well as the 30th anniversary of the La Casa del Habano franchise program.

Today, the company announced a number of new releases as well as its 2022 financial performance.

This story is part of halfwheel’s coverage of the Festival del Habano XXIII, the 2023 edition of Cuba’s annual cigar festival. For more coverage of the festival, click here.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.