Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cuban cigar legend Robaina dead at 91

Posted on Saturday, 04.17.10
Cuban cigar legend Robaina dead at 91

HAVANA -- Cuban tobacco grower Alejandro Robaina, an international
symbol of the island's cigar-making prowess, died Saturday. He was 91.

Cuban state television announced his death, and the state tobacco
concern Habanos SA, which produces the Robaina brand cigar, said on its
website that he was the "victim of a somber illness."

The only Cuban grower with a cigar brand named after him, Robaina
traveled for decades as an unofficial global ambassador for the island's
stogies. Into his final days, he could be found smoking cigars in a
rocking chair on his front port in San Luis, in westernmost Pinar de Rio

He worked the fields in Vuelta Abajo, Cuba's most-famous cigar-growing
region, where Habanos - a joint venture between the communist government
and Britain's Imperial Tobacco Group PLC - produced Robainas.

Born in the town of Alquizar on March 20, 1919, Robaina began working
his family's fields from the time he was 10. He remained in Cuba when
that land was nationalized after the revolution that toppled dictator
Fulgencio Batista and brought Fidel Castro to power on New Year's Day 1959.

Robaina became famous for the top-quality tobacco he helped produce and
was honored numerous times by the Castro government.

"He left an indelible mark on the history of Cuban tobacco," Havana's
Radio Reloj reported.

There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.

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