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An Interview with Oscar Boruchin

Owner of Licenciados and 8-9-8 Collection cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 15)

CA: But many Cuban-Americans still have relatives back in Cuba. They know that these people are deprived of basic necessities, which means the basic welfare of the people keeps declining. To me, it seems they have been so preoccupied with getting Castro out, that they've forgotten the people.

Boruchin: It's true, to a point. But, individually, you would be dumbfounded to find how many millions of dollars have been sent to immediate relatives. It's been food, medicine and even money. Even though it's technically prohibited this year, there is a tremendous amount of goods flowing through Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic. It's a tremendous business and it's a tremendous amount of money. It's just not a policy.

CA: When do you think the embargo will be lifted?

Boruchin: I thought that if Castro didn't make that mistake of bringing those planes down [in February 1996], Clinton would have lifted the embargo before the elections. I think he had more to gain in votes than to lose. Many of those votes in Florida, he wasn't going to get anyway. But he is under tremendous pressure by the industry in this country, by the business community, that see Italians, Spaniards, Canadians and Englishmen who are doing a tremendous amount of business with Cuba. We are so close to the island and we can do business with Cuba.

CA: Is it a year away, two years away, five years away?

Boruchin: I think before Clinton leaves, he will lift the embargo.

CA: If the embargo is lifted...

Boruchin: I'll be in Cuba on the first plane.

CA: How will that affect the cigar market in America?

Boruchin: It would be tremendous for the cigar market. At one time, the only thing that we thought was going to help the cigar industry was the lifting of the embargo and the Cuban cigars coming into the market. Now, we have this tremendous boom, and we still have the day ahead when Cuban cigars will come into the United States. I think it would help. I think that the news media, the papers, the advertising, the charisma that is going to come in the market, together with the cigars, is going to be tremendous. Don't forget. These Cuban cigars will be at a different price level. Not everybody can afford to smoke these cigars. But a lot of people are going to try them in the beginning, and the cigars will find their niche. They'll find their niche with certain consumers. It still is not going to hurt the industry. If anything it is going to help.

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