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Interview: Frank Llaneza of Villazon

A discussion with the president of Villazon & Co., makers of Hoyo de Monterrey and Punch.
Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
John Travolta, Jan/Feb 99

(continued from page 9)

Llaneza: In 1960.

CA: Tell me about the decision to focus more on Honduras than Nicaragua.

Llaneza: Honduras had a head start on Nicaragua. Nicaragua was just an experiment. The development of Honduras came first because the government there had a program to plant more tobacco.

CA: Was that in San Pedro Sula?

Llaneza: No, that was out of Tegucigalpa, out in the Jamastran area. And the area up around Santa Rosa de Copán was also part of the Olivas' operations.

CA: Was that Cuban-seed tobacco?

Llaneza: Yes. They were natural Cuban-seed wrappers under shade, and filler tobacco, too.

CA: This was in the 1950s?

Llaneza: Yes. Oliva was making fire-cured wrappers [shade tobacco that's heated immediately after picking to retain the green color in the leaves] for the American Tobacco Co. That was actually the stimulus that brought Oliva to Honduras. It worked out beautifully, because American Tobacco was interested in fire-cured wrappers and I was interested in natural tobacco and the Olivas were able to supply both.

CA: When did the industry as we know it today really begin to evolve in Honduras? When did you form Honduras-American Tobacco S.A.?

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