Cuban tobacco ‘godfather’ dies

Alejandro Robaina, considered the “godfather” of Cuban tobacco for growing leaves considered some of the best in the world, has died, his colleagues said.

Robaina, who was 91, died at his farm Saturday in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, CNN reported.

The death was announced by Jose Antonio Candia, spokesman for Habanos S.A., which produces cigars named for Robaina.

A box of Vegas Robaina cigars produced by “The Godfather” can bring in up to $500 on the international market, CNN said.

While the man behind the product became legendary, he started out as a simple country farmer who entertained a simple but sincere priority.

“The first thing is to love the land, take care of the land,” Robaina said.

His family farmed tobacco continuously on the plantation since 1845, and he was allowed to keep his lands even after Fidel Castro nationalized most ranches after he took power in 1959, CNN said.

“I had a very strong conversation with Fidel 18 or 20 years ago,” Robaina said in 2008. “He asked if I would join a big cooperative since I had so many workers, and I told him no.

“For me tobacco growing had to be in the family, done with love,” Robaina said. “Because in the big cooperatives, everyone’s the boss, nobody worries as much as the grower.”


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