Cuban tobacco legend Alejandro Robaina dies at 91

Sat Apr 17, 2010 6:04pm EDT
 
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By Jeff Franks

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban tobacco legend Alejandro Robaina, known in international cigar circles for producing the best of his country's famous tobacco leaves, died on Saturday at the age of 91, a family friend said.

Robaina, the only Cuban grower with a cigar bearing his name, had been in ill health after being diagnosed with cancer last year and had declined in recent days, said friend Sergio Hernandez, a cigar distributor living in Havana.

He died at his modest home on his 40-acre (16 hectare) farm near the town of San Luis in Cuba's Vuelta Abajo tobacco region near the western city of Pinar del Rio.

A frail Robaina celebrated his 91st birthday at his farm on March 20 surrounded by two dozen friends and family. He sat quietly in a chair smoking one of his famous cigars.

He told Reuters in a brief interview that the secret to growing the best tobacco was simple.

"You have to love the land and care for it," he said.

As the tobacco grows, he said "it talks to you, it tells you what it needs and you must listen."

Robaina spent his life mostly on his farm, tending to the surrounding tobacco fields. But he also traveled the world as Cuba's unofficial ambassador for tobacco.   Continued...

 
<p>Cuban tobacco grower Alejandro Robaina, considered one of the best tobacco producers in the world, smokes one of his own brands during an interview with Reuters at his farm in Pinar del Rio February 28, 2006. REUTERS/STR New</p>