With the zeal of the Taliban as they destroyed Buddhist monuments in Afghanistan thousands of years old, Fidel Castro has forsaken his own people in what is the latest attack yet on one of the world's most prized and unique art-forms. Not only has he recently instituted a government ban on the public smoking of cigars, he has snubbed the world famous Habanos Cigar Festival by neglecting to show-up as the featured guest for the $500 a plate final dinner. Jeremy Irons, the British actor and cigar aficionado, took his place in the lime light.
Naturally, it's entirely respectable for the aging dictator to have his own reservations about smoking cigars - indeed, there's probably not a doctor in the world that would recommend it was a good idea for him to continue smoking ten cigars per day. What is remarkable is the determined and zealous attack on one of the few unique pieces of Cuban cultural heritage his people have left to hang-on to.
As a large part of the world, courtesy of a new information age that promotes the exploration of different cultures, begins to embrace the very things that make each civilization unique, Castro tightens the noose on individuality and heritage. It would be akin to Spain banning Paella, Puerto-Rico banning Salsa Dancing, or Scotland banning Scotch.
How much longer will power-hungry fanatics continue to fight enraged against the traditions, art-forms and innovations of the people that make us more than robots - indeed, that make us human? Let us use the fear of such individuals as a reminder in our own lives that the things we celebrate and cherish can be taken from us in a second, and that it is our responsibility as global citizens to ensure the survival of not only our heritage, but also our future.