Cuban cigar wars: A legendary exile braces for U.S. re-opening

Manuel Quesada, owner of Quesada Cigars, lights a cigar inside his office in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, on May 4, 2017. The Quesada family, Cuban tobacco exiles operating out of the Dominican Republic, prepare to confront their communist rivals in the American market. Foto: Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo/Bloomberg

Manuel Quesada puffs on one of his creations-a funky-looking thing called a Q D'etat-as he tells a story about the Cubans getting under his skin. It was at a dinner last year in Germany, when Cigar Journal honored him with a lifetime achievement award. Everyone rose for a standing ovation except the people at the Cubatabaco table, the representatives of the state-run monopoly.

To be fair, the presenter had just recounted how the Quesada family had to flee the island in 1960, their business having been seized by gun-toting forces loyal to Fidel Castro. It was a decidedly uncomfortable several few seconds, ending only when an executive from another table scurried over and persuaded the Cubans to get to their feet...

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