Interview: Frank Llaneza of Villazon
A discussion with the president of Villazon & Co., makers of Hoyo de Monterrey and Punch.
From the Print Edition:
John Travolta, Jan/Feb 99
(continued from page 2)
Llaneza: Yes, we made two blends. We made clear Havana cigars and we made the Villazon and the Villa de Cuba brands, which were Havana filler, Wisconsin binder and Connecticut-shade wrapper.
CA: Were these all candela [green] wrappers?
Llaneza: No, these were all-natural. All-natural cigars. Joseph Cullman, Edgar's father, used to come in to sell us a few bales of Connecticut-shade wrapper for those cigars.
CA: How often did you go to Cuba during that period?
Llaneza: I might make three or four trips to Cuba in a year.
CA: Were you buying tobacco?
Llaneza: Yes, we were mostly visiting the people who grew the tobacco. At the time there were good-sized farms in the Vuelta Abajo. We had a degree of friendliness with the farmers there. We visited them frequently. In fact, I was on one of the farms once with my wife, and some small planes flew over. There were a lot of Fidel Castro's people [at the farm], and they thought they were being attacked. I will never forget that.
CA: Were you buying the tobacco directly from the farms?
Llaneza: No, we weren't. But we went to the farm and saw the tobacco. We weren't big enough to buy the production directly. Angel Oliva bought the tobacco and he had stripping plants and processing plants in Cuba. He would set aside what we figured we needed. And then we bought from other leaf people, too.
CA: Were you buying specific production?
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