Snapshot, 1959: Don’t bogart the cigar, Ernesto!

It’s Spring 1959, shortly after the successful Cuban revolution, and Comandante Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara is in good spirits. Will wealthy American politicians, bankers and industrialists share his cheerfulness when they learn they’ll no longer also be able to enjoy a Cuban cigar?

Since Fidel Castro’s armed resistance movement chased Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista out of office on 1 January 1959, the reconstruction of his homeland under Marxist-Leninist ideologies has been on the agenda. Guerrilla leader Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna now seems in good spirits in front of LIFE photographer Joseph Scherschel’s camera, sporting a big grin as well as his trademark beard, beret and obligatory cigar. Perhaps he knows that wealthy Americans will soon be prohibited from enjoying the coveted Cuban tobacco speciality? Next year, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower will impose a trade embargo that John F. Kennedy will exacerbate in 1962 to outlaw Cuban imports – including Cuban cigars – but not before stockpiling 1,200 of his favourite H. Upmann Petits.

Photo: Joseph Scherschel / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images

Last Monday, 17 October 2016, President Obama lifted the 54-year ban on Cuban cigars for American travellers. Need a light?