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An Interview with Manuel Quesada

Owner, MATASA, makers of Fonseca, Licenciados, Romeo y Julieta, Jose Benito, Cubita, Royal Dominicana, Credo and Casa Blanca cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Denzel Washington, Jan/Feb 98

(continued from page 18)

CA: Do you see the need or the plan where some of the Dominican or Honduran manufacturers might begin to buy Cuban tobacco in bulk and put it in their cigars to strengthen the taste, make it a little spicier, or be more in the style of a Cuban cigar, or do you think the taste will come closer together, or stand apart as they do now?

Quesada: I think you'll see everything. I think you will see Dominican brands remaining as they are, with the Dominican taste that the market has grown to like and to accept and that has made Dominicans the best-selling cigar in the market today. You will also see combinations with Cuban tobacco in leaf form going into blends of new products, or perhaps variations of the existing brands, where you make a private selection and you make a cabinet selection, and you'll also see perhaps some manufacturers going to Cuba and making Cuban cigars in Cuba. But I don't foresee that anyone will forsake their Dominican ventures.

CA: I would doubt that anyway.

Quesada: No, no, but I think that you will see everything happening in the market because there will be opportunity for 100-percent Cuban cigars, 100-percent Dominican cigars and combinations thereof.

CA: I can't quite imagine you going back to Cuba, where you'd need fields, cigar rollers and so forth, and all having to working with the systems and pay scales they have now. Wouldn't it be difficult?

Quesada: We were bitten once. We have no desire to be bitten twice. So before we do go back and put our money up and start ventures, we have to have assurances that we will be respected.

CA: It sounds like, at least for the nearer term, the only real practical road is buying bulk tobacco.

Quesada: Exactly.

CA: What about making 100-percent Cuban cigars, but making them in the Dominican Republic or using the tobacco to blend in with what you're now making to make something either brand new or to have a different style?

Quesada: I feel the same way. Politics will not allow us to go back and start investing money right away.

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