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A Conversation with Rolando Reyes, Sr.

The creator of Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados cigars speaks to Cigar Aficionado.

(continued from page 1)
Q: Especially if they know you're not there until the evening.
A: No, I'm there in the morning, too. I work during the night. When I wake up in the morning, I walk up and down the factory, picking cigars from here, from there, and then I know what to look for at night.
Q: Do you still have a lector, someone who reads to the workers?
A: I have the lector, and sometimes I leave him notes, and I tell him to read aloud what I'm expecting from the workers that day. And sometimes when someone isn't doing a good job, I give the lector the person's name, and he says so-and-so, ojo, I'm looking at you. Mine is the only factory [outside] of Cuba that has a lector. He does international news, local news, he reads soap operas. I don't allow music. When the man is reading, nobody can talk.
Q: Do you still raise animals and have your farm?
A: I have a very large farm. I have everything—any animal you want. The workers really can't afford to eat meat, so I give them some. All the mothers get free milk for their kids. More than half of my workers, I give them food from my farms.
Q: How many workers do you have now?
A: Anywhere from 300 to 350. It's a big factory.
Q: Do you miss Cuba?
A: I'm used to being away from Cuba. I'm an American citizen, and I've made Honduras my home.
Q: Have you smoked any Cuban cigars recently?
A: They bring Cuban cigars to the factory sometimes.
Q: And what do you think about Cuban cigars?
A: I think they're not blended well. I don't think they take pride in what they do. They have very little incentive.
Q: So what's next?
A: Right now I have full concentration on Cuba Aliados. I'm putting everything I've got into the new Cuba Aliados. It's very close to my heart. It's a brand I brought from Cuba, and I was unable to handle it for a very long time. Now that it's back with my family, I want to make sure that I'm remembered for a long time. I lost it once. I don't want to lose it again.
Q: The other brands aren't going away, right?
A: No, but I'm focused right now on Cuba Aliados. I want it to get back to where it used to be. I work every day of the year—even on my birthday. I get sick when I don't have anything to do. I'll retire when I'm dead.
Photos by Eileen Escarda
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