Friday, September 29, 2006
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Exclusivo No. 3
"Mr. Padrón, 80, began working in his father’s tobacco farm at the age of 7 and is still a hands-on manager a lifetime later. He now shuttles between Miami and Managua and is a constant presence on the factory floor, plucking bad leaves off the table with a disapproving eye and leaving a trail of smoke behind him.
“Don’t even talk about life without cigars,” said Mr. Padrón, a stocky man who speaks in rapid-fire Cuban Spanish and sticks his nose into tobacco leaves to take in the pungent scent as some might smell a rose.
In the 1970’s, Mr. Padrón began growing tobacco derived from Cuban seed here in Nicaragua’s fertile Estelí region. But politics interfered.
In 1978, as Sandinista revolutionaries battled the longtime dictator Anastasio Somoza, Mr. Padrón was regarded by some as sympathetic to the strongman. His Nicaraguan factory was burned.
Still, he kept smoking, and eventually he was back producing cigars in this country. To do so, he had to meet with the local comandante and make the case that he was employing hundreds of Nicaraguans and not meddling in politics.
The crises did not let up. In 1979, he and other Cuban exiles went back to Cuba to negotiate the release of political prisoners. In a meeting with President Castro, Mr. Padrón was photographed handing the leader one of his cigars, which riled some of Miami’s anti-Castro hard-liners so much that they repeatedly put bombs in his factory.
A group called Omega 7 claimed responsibility for the attacks, which backfired in the long run. Many in Miami sympathized with him and bought more of his cigars. Mr. Padrón posted this quotation from José Martí, the 19th-century poet and fighter for Cuban independence, on his factory wall: “Men are divided into two groups — those that love and build, and those that hate and destroy.”
In 1985 the Reagan administration imposed a trade embargo on Nicaragua, which effectively ended Mr. Padrón’s ability to get his Nicaraguan cigars to his American customers. “I got hit again,” he said.
He hustled some bales of tobacco out of the country to continue producing for a while, then opened an operation across the border in Honduras. But when the embargo was lifted in 1990, he was back in Nicaragua. “I’m a survivor,” he said."
A Career Seasoned With Cigar Smoke and Revolution
NYT, September 27, 2006
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Exclusivo
My other favorite:
Diamond Crown Figurado No. 6
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