Tobacco Asia

Volume 19, Number 3

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58 tobaccoasia / Issue 3, 2015 (July/August) By Eric Piras Photo credit Luc Monnet From the boutique producers to the best-known brands, Nicaragua is now acknowledged for pro- ducing some of the top tobaccos in the world. The rich volcanic soils paired with ideal climate con- ditions and decades of hard work and experience make Nicaragua the country everybody is currently looking at. But the vegueros and cigar producers of this Central American country have had to endure a number of hardships. As it often does, the history of Nicaraguan ci- gars begins in 1959 with the exodus of the great Cuban cigar makers. Cigarette tobacco had been cultivated in Nicaragua for years, but cigar tobacco had not been supported until the Somoza govern- ment decided to finance it as a new industry for Nicaragua. Up until the fall of the Somoza's dictatorship to the Sandinistas in 1979, Nicaragua was pro- ducing some of the finest premium cigars able to compete with the top Cubans brands. During the Sandinistas' reign, the farms and factories of the tobacco region were liquidated and the property redistributed under the new socialist government. In 1984, the US imposed a commercial embargo on Nicaragua, making it impossible to sell cigars in their largest market. Most of the production was redirected toward burley cigarette tobacco for Eastern European markets. With the end of the civil war, when Violetta Barrios de Chamorro won the elections in 1990, the great cigar families started working again until 1998, when Hurricane Mitch devastated the coun- try and affected the tobacco farms and cigar fac- Nicaragua: Cigar Terroir for the 21 st Century? Years ago, the number of cigar factories in Nicaragua could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Now, Nicaragua is the new place to be for most manufacturers

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