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The First Family of Tobacco

For decades, the Oliva family of Tampa, Florida, has been supplying tobacco to many of the world's top makers of premium cigars.
Michael Kaplan
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97

(continued from page 9)

CA: Why was that?

Oliva: Two reasons: Number one, the government of Nicaragua nationalized all the farms in the same way that Castro had done in Cuba. He was their ideological leader.

CA: And number two?

Oliva: A very bad tobacco virus called blue mold spread like fire in Central America. It came in with Hurricane Fifi.

CA: Where is the bulk of your product grown today?

Oliva: Most of our wrapper production is in Ecuador, and our filler and binder production is in Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

CA: Did all your family get out of Cuba before Castro took power?

Oliva: No. My brother, Felix, worked for Castro at the onset of his takeover. When he learned what Castro was all about, he then worked to get him out of power. So Felix and his daughter [Maruja] were taken political prisoners and were given a death sentence. After many years of torture, they were released in 1968.

CA: This must have been a difficult time for you and your family.

Oliva: The Revolution broke many homes and many hearts.

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