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An Interview with Manuel Quesada

Owner, MATASA, makers of Fonseca, Licenciados, Romeo y Julieta, Jose Benito, Cubita, Royal Dominicana, Credo and Casa Blanca cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Denzel Washington, Jan/Feb 98

(continued from page 21)

CA: Do the locals in the Dominican Republic understand that cigar-making is something which is really exciting and healthy and great for their country in terms of growth and export?

Quesada: Quite so. It not only creates labor and jobs, but it also creates a name for Dominican Republic. It's a product that is recognized worldwide.

CA: Do you get government support?

Quesada: No, we don't.

CA: What's an example of something for which you, as an industry, have tried to get the support of government, but were turned down?

Quesada: When we started the institutional advertising for Dominican Republic in Cigar Aficionado, we went to the government and told them, This is a wonderful opportunity for you to promote Dominican Republic. We wanted the government to come in with us and afford us a bigger scope of advertising. And the government said, This is your enterprise, you go do it yourself.

CA: That campaign, I remember it well, was part of ProCigar. Where is ProCigar now?

Quesada: ProCigar is alive and well. ProCigar has eight members, back to the original number that it was three years ago. We still meet regularly. We are continuing the job that we proposed to do when we started ProCigar: promote Dominican cigars.

CA: I remember that one of the missions--aside and apart from building brands, which are the responsibility of each owner--was to affect a sort of cooperative effort to strengthen the image of cigars made from the Dominican Republic. It would appear that that's been on hold for the last few years.

Quesada: It has been on hold. The arrival of all the new cigar manufacturers into Dominican Republic created a sort of situation where we could not create ill will amongst us by separating ourselves from all the manufacturers in Dominican Republic. For a couple of years we were in discussions about internal problems that faced industry in Dominican Republic such as labor, tobacco availability and so on. That has been settled finally. Now, we are back into looking at promoting Dominican Republic. We're finishing a campaign that should come out early next year.

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