The Independents

El Presidente

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The independents by Punch Joe

The great Cuban tobacco industry, which has been flourishing since the late years of the XVIII Century remained exclusively in the hands of Spanish immigrants until the end of the XIX Century, not without mentioning a few Cubans and the successful German entrepreneurs such as the Upmann brothers and Bock.

Ignacio Larrañaga, a Spaniard born in the region of Galicia, came to Cuba in 1825. Nine years later (1834) he registered the brand name. and opened a cigar factory at San Miguel Street, No 58 even though it had different addresses until 1925, its last location was No 713, Carlos III Street. He was one of those who in 1899 refused to sell to the Americans while others rushed to do it. But back in the late months of 1895, the fact that Cuba's impeding independence was becoming a fact obvious to all, some Spaniards refused to sell their business here. Many feared a hostile reaction from Cubans when in power, but that never happened. That was the long-cherished golden opportunity for the newly born American empire. Later on, in 1899 a New Trust is established, the American Tobacco Company. Then, the big names arrived in Havana. In only thirty months, American Companies controlled 90% of all cigar and cigarette exports. H.B. Collins and Company, the Havana Commercial Company and the American Tobacco Company, among others, owned as much as 291 tobacco brands and 85 cigarette brands. Ignacio Larrañaga didn't give in to the pressure of the American overtures. Like Partagas, Allones, Punch…etc, he remained an independent producer. They were known then as The Independents.

In 1925, The National Tobacco Company was established. The main objective of this commercial association was to produce machine made cigars (mechanize the industry as they said). History has it that the proud workers of Por Larrañaga factory went on strike and won: machine rolled cigars would have to bear an inscription in the band informing the buyer that the cigar he was smoking was made by a machine. Rejection by smokers put an end to those first attempts at mechanization and machines had to be given up for the time being.

Find below the complete list of "The Independents" who's love of cigars and the industry would not permit them to sell out. (1910)


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Another great article José, Great info :clap: Thanks for sharing.

Yes, these owners & Brands were very couragous but unfortunatly many of these brands

did not survive shortly after the Second World War and others, due to the heavy financal pressure

put on them by the American trusts, didn't even last to see the take over by the Revolution,

many were already gone.

Ciao l'ami :waving:

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I find the historical significance of this article to be especially poignant. While the posting is not deserving of being dragged through the mud via one of my political filters I can't help but bring up the fact that these "independents" survived market forces but could not survive political forces. Today in Cuba there are no independents! What a shame! I believe that the centralized planning of the Cuban political system has all but ruined the Cuban cigar. There are no independents now, and now more than ever, I wish there was at least one Cuban company that could focus on the individualism of the seasoned cigar smoker and not pander to only the masses as a means to do anything to sell a fat cigar. -Piggy

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