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A Conversation With Fidel

Marvin R. Shanken travels to Havana for an extensive interview with Fidel Castro.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Fidel Castro, Summer 94

(continued from page 3)

Castro: It is a native name. It was the name the native Indians gave to cigars.

Shanken: Was it the generic name for cigars or tobacco?

Castro: I am not sure exactly. So the new brand was created based on the experience of a tobacco grower who used to make cigars for himself. And in my view, it was the best cigar available. I did not like any others after that.

When I was a student before the Revolution, I used to smoke different brands. Sometimes I used to smoke Romeo y Julieta Churchill, H. Upmann, Bauza, Partagas, but ever since I found Cohiba....It was so soft--and it was not an overly compact cigar. It was easy to smoke.

Shanken: When Cohiba became a brand, was it made exclusively for you?

Castro: At first when the tobacco grower used to make it, he used to make it for himself and the bodyguard. And then for some time, he used to send me the same cigars, but I found it so good that I thought it could be a new brand. I thought that it would be worthwhile setting up a new factory to make this cigar.

Shanken: You sound like a businessman.

Castro: I thought it was worth its own factory. All it needed was a name. And based on the type of cigars from that man, I had the factory established.

Shanken: This brand today is considered by many cigar lovers to be the finest brand of cigars in the world.

Castro [holds a Cohiba Esplendido]: This particular cigar is too tight in my opinion. The Cohiba should be easy to smoke. And it should burn very evenly, almost like a cigarette. I don't know much about the new Cohibas, but that was how the old ones were.

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