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Cuba's Cigar Summit

Cigar Lovers the World Over Descended Upon Havana in February to Celebrate the Past, Present and Future of Cuban Cigars
From the Print Edition:
The Cuba Issue, May/Jun 99

(continued from page 6)

To my mind, Cuba's exports of handmade cigars are already too high. Part of the mystique and romance of a Cohiba Robusto or a Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona is the frustrating search for these uncommon treasures. Better to maintain their unique image and deliver a consistently high, world-class product at a high price, each and every time, than to compromise quality and fill the distribution channels to overflowing. Don't make a Cuban cigar easy to buy.

In my interview with President Castro in 1994, he said, and I quote, "The cigar has made our country famous. It has given us prestige. This prestige must be protected."

Cuba needs to tell cigar lovers of the world that it cares about its cigars, cares about the quality of its exports, more than the profits they generate. It is a very difficult philosophy given the difficulties of the Cuban economy.

I've shown you how cigar quality is improving in other countries. That improvement is only going to continue. Many cigar manufacturers have already slowed down their production. Tobacco is aging longer. Rollers are getting better trained and more experienced. And cigars are resting longer before getting shipped out the door. Cuba must do the same. That translates into better quality.

We believe that the world market will be a growing market for the handmade premium cigar, but only if the market is truly understood and supply and demand factors are considered. We all need to protect and defend the very integrity of the craft.

I wish for every cigar aficionado in the world, including Americans, to experience the pleasure of lighting up one of Cuba's great cigars. A Romeo y Julieta Churchill, a Punch Punch, a Montecristo "A". Only then will they understand just how great a great cigar can be.

During this conference, no doubt this complex market dilemma will be addressed by others. Let sound judgment, not politics or economics, prevail.

And to each of you, I offer my best wishes and a toast to your great national treasure, the Cuban cigar.

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