Alejandro Robaina: Ninety Years Dedicated to Tobacco
By Alejandro Esteban / Photos by Ramón Iglesias Centeno
Recognized for his wisdom and love for the tobacco leaf, Alejandro Robaina, considered the best tobacco grower in Cuba, arrives at his 90th birthday.
As on many other occasions, the venue for this celebration is his beloved tropical island, where he is surrounded by family and friends, including many cigar smokers of the world, some of them Canadian.A life dedicated to tobacco
His face has as many traces of the sun as a sailor. His expression displays the wisdom of a grower dedicated body and soul to tobacco, a beneficent plant that since his childhood became for him a game, study, profession and, above all, joy.
Don Alejandro Robaina Pereda today has achieved an enviable old age. He is an active and happy man, a very special Cuban who, without ever studying diplomacy, is a sort of ambassador for the Cuban cigar, the handcrafted cigar every aficionado wants to smoke.
This good friend is a versatile conversationalist, in whom is mixed a farmer's whimsy, Cuban Creole wit and seriousness about work. That is why he is considered the best tobacco harvester in Cuba.
His name appears on a brand of Cuban cigars and he was also selected Cigar Man of the Year in the Communications Division of the Cigar Festival in February 2002 for his work promoting cigars in his constant trips around the world.
Robaina is so famous that it is said Sting once asked him for an autograph. The famous British pop star admires him as an artisan of the famous Habanos.
Born by chance in Havana Province's municipality of Alquízar, his family had lived since 1845 on an estate in Cuchillas de Barbacoa, San Luis municipality, in westernmost Pinar del Río province.
Alejandro's grandfathers, Leopoldo Robaina and Jerónimo Pereda, the first from Santander and the latter from the Canary Islands, were the genesis of the family in Cuba. One of Leopoldo's boys, Maruto, married María Pereda, who gave birth to Alejandro on March 20, 1919. At first, the family wanted the child to study medicine or pharmacology, but he refused. From early childhood, he was attached to the land, something his father also enjoyed.
“Tobacco is part of my life. I could have been a professional, but I preferred tobacco.”
Robaina was selected Best Producer by the Cuban Association of Harvesters in 1954. He was also named Best Producer of Tobacco in Cuba in 1998.
Since 1997, when Habanos SA honored him by launching a new line of cigars bearing the name “Vegas Robaina”, the world has changed for him. He left his farmland for the first time to go overseas and now, after travelling part of the world, he still receives many invitations to go to countries were Cuban cigars are in great demand.