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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
George Burns, Winter 94/95

(continued from page 2)

Alan Ira Fleischmann
Hurricane, West Virginia

* * *

Dear Marvin,

Your article about journalists who smoke cigars made me recall that in covering a war there are few pleasures greater than surviving long enough to enjoy a double corona at the end of a day of bang-bang. Now, while it's true that I am technically no longer a journalist, at least not full-time, I thought I would share with you a memorable story from the unpleasantness in Nicaragua.

Sometime toward the latter part of 1978 or early 1979, as the Sandinista revolutionaries battled Somoza's National Guard, the town of Esteli was occupied by the rebels, the National Guard bombed the town and destroyed a lot of it including the factory and warehouse of the Joya de Nicaragua cigar company. The ABC News team, undaunted by danger and with greater glory in mind, fought its way to the remains of the smoldering cigar complex and plucked from certain disintegration as many coronas as could be stuffed into the multipocketed photo vests and guayaberas that were the fashion of the journalists covering the war.

Years later, 1982 if memory serves, I was sitting in the Dallas bureau with our cigar-smoking correspondent, Charlie Murphy, when the phone rang. The man on the line was from an insurance company and was processing a client's claim. He asked if Murphy had covered the Sandinista revolution in 1978 and 1979. Yes, said Murphy. The man asked if he had been in Esteli. Yes again. The insurance man continued and finally asked if Murphy would describe the situation in Nicaragua at the time as one of "civil strife." "Oh yeah. You bet," concluded Murphy in his Oklahoman drawl. We both proceeded to guffaw.

It turns out that the claim was being filed by the owners of Joya de Nicaragua. I hope they settled for a large chunk of change, and I'm glad to see that they are once again making cigars worth insuring.

Alejandro Benes
Managing Director
The Center for Public Integrity
Washington, D.C.

* * *

Dear Marvin,

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