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An Interview With Pedro Martín

Pedro Martín, the founder and owner of Tropical Tobacco.
Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Orlando Hernandez, Mar/Apr 99

(continued from page 1)

CA: And your family grew cigar tobacco?
Martín: Yes, cigar tobacco.

CA: Did your family also manufacture cigars in Cuba?
Martín: I remember one, El Veguero. I think the Cubans make a brand called Vegueros now.

CA: How many cigars were made in your factory then?
Martín: We used to have anywhere from eight to 15 cigarmakers. We made usually about 2,000 to 3,000 cigars a day.

CA: Did you make a particular size or shape?
Martín: We didn't make that many sizes. We made a Media Breva, the cheapest one. If I remember right, the size was 4 3/4 inches by 42 ring gauge. We made the Breva, which was about 5 1/4 or 5 1/2 by 44. We made fumas [called Casadoras] with a twisted tail, which was 6 by 44.

CA: And how much did those sell for?
Martín: About two cents each. We also made the Petit Cetro. It was 5 inches by 38 ring gauge. We sold most of these cigars in boxes of 25. The Petit Cetro and another one called Climas also were sold in boxes.

CA: Were they sold all over Cuba?
Martín: No. It was mainly in the Las Villas region.

CA: So you couldn't even buy them in Havana.
Martín: No. During the Second World War, we used to make a cigar called Commandos for the American soldiers.

CA: Were they just small cigarettes or small cigars?
Martín: Cigars. About 5 1/4 inch by 42, something like that. We made tons of those, and we sold them all. They were all long filler.

CA: You continued to work in the factory and in tobacco until 1961, is that correct?
Martín: Yes. During that time, I continued making cigars and working with my uncle. My uncle was in charge of the factory and my father was in charge of purchases, plus tobacco curing and the selection of tobacco.

I remember something that makes me laugh about the problem we have with teenagers smoking in the United States today. I smoked cigarettes and cigars as soon as I started working in the factory. But I could not smoke in front of my uncle or in front of my father. One day my father, when I was about 17 or 18 years old, found me smoking a cigar. And then you know I was afraid. But he said, "You're a man now; you can smoke." And from there on I started smoking every day. I didn't smoke too much, you know. A couple of cigars a day.

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