April 2020

All Costa Rican cigar factories closed. According to Jeremy Casdagli from Casdagli Cigars, all cigar factories in Costa Rica have closed the door. He said that during the virtual herf at the ISO Lounge, hosted by Unico Desde 1979. That is the private project of Samuel Spurr, the Asia Pacific editor for Cigar Journal Magazine. Follow Unico Desde 1979 on Facebook to see the new ISO Lounge virtual herfs.

Costa Rica

Casdagli mentioned that Costa Ricans are very health care driven people. Costa Rica offers some of the best health care in Latin America. Both the private and public health care systems are always being upgraded. New hospitals, new clinics, new machines, and improvement in staff and training. Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) frequently place Costa Rica in the top country rankings in the world for long life expectancy. WHO’s 2000 survey ranked Costa Rica as having the 36th best health care system, placing it one spot above the United States at the time. In addition, the United Nations has ranked Costa Rica’s public health system within the top 20 worldwide and number 1 in Latin America.

When neighboring Panama was hit hard with coronavirus infections, Costa Ricans didn’t hesitate. On March 16, the state of national emergency was declared. Bars, clubs and casinos were closed and education moved from the classroom to virtual classes. Even though the factories are allowed to open, all of them closed down. The factory owners aren’t taking any chances.

Nicaragua

As published before on here, some factories in Nicaragua closed. Others are working, yet non-essential workers such as office staff, are working remotely. Amongst the factories that closed are large factories such as Drew Estate, Joya de Nicaragua, and Tabacos de Valle Jalapa (TABSA). But smaller factories have closed down as well, including Nica Sueño (RoMa Craft), Fabrica de Oveja Negra (Black Label Trading Company) and Tabacalera Aragon (Jas Sum Kral). Tabacalera Aragon was the first Nicaraguan factory to close the doors.

Honduras

The Honduran government prohibited the continuation of cigar production. All the factories are in full lock-down with the exception of essential personal who take care of tobacco and security. Under the Honduran law, all employers are required to continue to pay the salaries. But it doesn’t mean that the factories are not being used. Alec Bradley secured food and hygene supplies for hundreds of families. The large tobacco freezers at Raices Cubanas, Alec Bradley’s production partner in Honduras, are used as refrigerators to store those supplies.

Dominican Republic

All of the factories on the Dominican Republic suspended production as well. Probably the last one to shut down operations is the tiny Kelner Boutique Factory. But before Kelner closed the doors, he had his rollers come in shifts and had them sit far away from each other to comply with the social distancing advice.

Cuba

Even though there are 4000 cases, confirmed or suspected, in Cuba with at least 6 casualties so far, its business as usual. Although, one source in Cuba told us that the factories in Pinar del Rio are close. But we haven’t been able to get those reports confirmed. The factories elsewhere in the country, including the capital Havana, remain functioning as if there is no pandemic.

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