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An Interview with Jose Padrón

Chairman, Piloto Cigars Inc.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Gina Gershon, Sep/Oct 98

(continued from page 2)

CA: What was your father's name?

Padrón: Francisco Padrón Blanco.

CA: Do you know that one of the top men at Habanos, the Cuban cigar monopoly, is named Francisco Padrón?

Padrón: I spoke with him in Cuba. He is also the son of an Isleño. All the Padróns of Cuba are descendants of Isleños.

CA: How old were you when you got into the tobacco farming business?

Padrón: At the age of seven, my first job was cleaning the seed beds. I went to school in the morning and then I'd come homeand clean the seed beds.

CA: What role did your family play in the tobacco world in Cuba?

Padrón: When you are involved with tobacco, it does get into your blood. Having the history of the family, my father was one of the founders of the Association of the Tobacco Growers of Cuba in 1942. After that, another association was formed that was called Caja de Estabilizacion. The group planned and controlled the amount of tobacco in production and what could be used for cigars. During the war, the demand for Cuban cigars went up, a lot like what we went through in the last five years. As a result farmers were using tobacco that would not have been used under normal conditions. The Caja imposed rules like, if the farmer had grown 10 acres the year before, he couldn't grow more than 10 the next year. They also controlled the types of tobacco that could be used. They basically controlled the quality. Before that, the system had become a mess, and everybody started to manufacture. But the new group established a system of ensuring quality.

CA: Were you living in Pinar del Río then?

Padrón: Yes, I was a child but I remember all that was goingon at the time.

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