14ymedio, Juan Izquierdo, Havana, 9 September 2022 — While the quality and distribution of cigars in Cuban shops are at their lowest point, the directors of the famous El Laguito factory, in Havana, promise to make and export two million cigars of the Cohiba brand before the end of this year.
The goal will be met “despite the difficulties,” said the director of the cigar company, Oscar Rodríguez Carballeira. Attracted by the 55th anniversary of the Cohiba label, invented by Fidel Castro to entertain foreign leaders and diplomats, almost 700 cigar fans, including journalists and buyers, attended El Laguito on Thursday.
The manager indicated that the factory has mobilized its 252 workers, most of them women, to manufacture the expected quantity at a rate of 9,000 cigars per day. According to Rodríguez Carballeira, not even two years of pandemic managed to interrupt production at El Laguito.
Although the cigar is fabricated in the old republican factory , the leaf that is processed in El Laguito comes from the highest quality plantations in the country: those of the towns of San Juan y Martínez and San Luis, in Pinar del Río, both located in the tobacco growing region of Vueltabajo, the mecca of the Cuban puro (cigar).
El Laguito, since 1966, has been a factory of excellence, once supervised directly by Fidel Castro and Celia Sánchez. For more than five decades it has produced, in addition to about twenty well-known brands such as Montecristo, Romeo and Juliet, Partagás and H. Upmann, the range of Cohiba premium puros, whose anniversary the Government has decided to celebrate in style.
This Friday, a gala dinner is planned at the Pabexpo fairgrounds, in which the Habanos awards for 2020 and 2021 will be presented, in the categories of Production, Business and Communication. That same night, the traditional humidor auction will be held, where millionaires from various parts of the world bid to obtain a specialized container to store their cigars, probably signed by Fidel Castro before his death.
Without being in the same category as the noisy Festivals of the Habano (the Havana cigars), which are based at the Convention Center, the celebration for the 55th anniversary of Cohiba will avail itself of the opportunity to raise as much hard currency as possible.
Under the tutelage of the Spanish investors, who finance and distribute the product of the Cuban corporation Habanos S.A., the cigar industry continues to be fundamental in the Cuban economy.
Anticipating these celebrations, the Government planned a luxurious hotel facility in Pinar del Río, which is scheduled to open this month. The delegate of the Ministry of Tourism in that province, José Antonio Aguilera, explained that the hotel, located in San Juan y Martínez, will have only eight exclusive rooms, managed by Islazul.
Customers, who are the same anonymous millionaires who come to El Laguito this year, will enjoy a bar, humidors, specialized shops and a smoking room. “We want tourists to come and share with the community, and local development will benefit,” said Aguilera.
In 2021, Cuba reported $568 million in cigar sales. The main and most stable buyers are still Spain, China, Germany, France and Switzerland.
With the issuance of limited-edition cigar bands, the prices for the Cohiba brand, the former Indian name for the cigar or the smoking ceremony, have skyrocketed internationally. A pure Cohiba of small or medium caliber can reach 25 euros per cigar in Spanish tobacconists, while cigar bands of the highest quality such as the Pirámides Jar exceed 500, and the Special Reserve Selection, one of the most expensive, exceed 730. In the European informal market, these cigars reach 1,000 euros apiece.
Meanwhile, the cigar stores in Cuba, where you need to pay with foreign currency, have definitively closed their doors for the Cuban, who cannot and does not want to pay the overwhelming prices for the best cigar in the world.
*Translator’s note: See here for the Ten Million Ton Sugar Harvest
Translated by Regina Anavy
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