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Cuba's New Cigar Chief

The Spanish co-head of Habanos tries to strike the right balance between tradition and modernization
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Vegas, Mar/Apr 2006

(continued from page 4)

BJSC: We have decided that we want to promote what we call regional specialties. In saying "region," we are referring to a part of the world.

JS: So it's not a matter of a specific country, then?

BJSC: No. It has nothing to do with a specific country. It refers to a region where we may perhaps have strong distributors and they know the client and these clients may like a certain kind of cigar. We have limited the number of regional specialties for next year.

JS: They have to buy 1,000 boxes minimum, no?

BJSC: No, James. I don't think it works like that. What I mean is that if I create a regional specialty for the Asian-Pacific area, it will not be the same as if I create another one for England…. In one case we may produce 50,000 cigars and in the other it could reach 200,000.

JS: What is your opinion about fake cigars?

BJSC: We strongly fight forgery. The Cuban government gets involved and tries to reach agreements with other countries in order to fight against this. We have absolute control over the movement of tobacco in bales, so that it is used as it should be.

JS: Do you think the forgeries are done here in Cuba or somewhere else?

BJSC: I think the majority of the forgeries are from the D.R., Mexico, Brazil, Nicaragua, Honduras and many other places. Plus, I believe that the majority of them are manufactured with tobacco that isn't Cuban. I cannot say for sure that fakes do not leave Cuba.

JS: But doesn't that happen, too?

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