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An Interview With Guillermo León

President, León Jimenes Cigars
Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Chuck Norris, Jul/Aug 98

(continued from page 13)

We also have a store for accessories for cigars.

CA: In the history of your company, cigars went through a period when they were less important to the bottom line. But it seems you are returning to the roots of the company.

León: Yes, that is true. The importance has always been there. The cigar company did operate with losses for a couple of years. But the thought of closing it never crossed our minds. It would have been absurd. But for us, Aurora is our pretty girl. It is a tradition that runs through our veins. It is what has taken us to where we are today. It is the soul of the company, whether or not it was lucrative.

CA: If the embargo on Cuba is lifted someday, do you plan to use Cuban tobacco, perhaps open a factory there? Do you have any plans concerning that?

León: That's not in our league. People already prefer our cigars the way they are. The brands are already established. I can't say that using Cuban tobacco or whatever would never happen. I think Cuba has good tobacco. If some day that is what the consumer asks for, why not? There are people that like tobacco from Nicaragua, Honduras or Indonesia. Cuba is a good producer of tobacco, so why not contemplate all the possibilities. To speculate about whether we would create a factory in Cuba, I doubt it. First of all, our roots aren't Cuban; we are very traditional and very Dominican, and we have defended our national pride to the end. When the Dominican market was not appealing to anyone, we maintained it. Even when we had the chance to increase our profit margin by moving the production to somewhere else, we maintained our tradition here, which is to give the people the cigars they wanted. We have good relationships with people from Havana. They have visited us at La Aurora. But that's it.

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