Let us start with Nicaragua.
There has been political unrest, which has led to violence, a work strike, and a blockade of major thoroughfares including the Pan-American highway.
As we have said, the well-being of the people is our primary concern. The practical issue of Nicaragua’s role as the top supplier of tobacco for premium cigars is not as significant, but of import to us.
Yes, you read that correctly, Nicaragua surpassed the Dominican Republic as the top exporter of tobacco. So, it is important to the tobacco industry that they continue to provide the beautiful leaf to the world.
The good news is that in spite of all the difficulties, the farms are still producing and delivering their product.
Nester Plasencia the CEO of one the largest tobacco producers said, “Thank God we are still working. We already finished the harvest of our 2017-2018 crops from our farms. For time being, it hasn’t affected any shipment of cigars, as there are alternative roads to the airport where we are sending our cigars.”
Juan Martinez, president of Joya de Nicaragua, was quick to point out how it is affecting the workers. “But on the human side, workers have had families affected. [And] it is hard for workers to get to and from work. There have been shortages of fuel and access to food. Overall, the biggest effect is moral and emotional; there is a high degree of stress, worry, and uncertainty about the future.”
Martinez gave the last word, for the time being, “We don’t foresee factories closing operations. On the contrary, many companies are increasing inventory and their supply to the United States. Our biggest concern is the safety, security, and well-being of our workers and their families.”
Please keep Nicaragua in your prayers and actions.
Our second update is good news on the cigar industries battle with the FDA’s proposed regulations. In a recent blog, we discussed how Amit Mehta, the judge in the Cigar Association of American vs United States Food and Drug Administration, made statements that seemed favorable toward the Cigar Association’s case. At that time he also stated that they were legally able to enforce their regulations.
This week he issued an injunction against the August date on which the regulations for cigar labels were to take effect. This does not mean that the FDA will not eventually enact those regulations. It does mean that that enactment won’t happen for another year – most likely. It also opens the door to the possibility that those regulations will be reconsidered.
So this is great news. Rocky Patel, owner of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, expressed our sentiments, “This is a great day for the handmade cigar industry. It’s going to save us millions of dollars in wasted energy and time. It’s a monkey off backs.”
Let’s hope that monkey stays in the trees and off our backs. We will keep you apprised of the situation.
Thank you Taba community for being amazing!