The Trinidad y Hermano brand: the missing link.


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TheTrinidad y Hermano brand: the missing link.

By Punch Jo

The story of Trinidad y Hno is noteasy to tell. Especially when having another post Revolution Trinidad brand and most of the formerbrand’s history is almost gone. Although people claim that both brands areunrelated, the name Trinidad is not usually regarded as a pre revolution brand.One can hardly find references to the brand before the Revolution so this iswhat I heard from different sources that coincide almost 100%.

The Trinidad brothers were born inSanta Clara, Villa Clara 270 km away from Havana going east.

Circa 1937, they opened a cigarfactory aimed at producing both cigars and cigarettes. Amado Trinidad, the younger brother founded aradio station called The W thatstill exists today. Initially, he was involved in the factory but he found thebusiness pretty boring and started to be in charge of minor things, letting hisbrother run the facility and the distribution of the cigars. The brand was verywell received by smokers and the production was about to increase. The Trinidadcigars and cigarettes were well acknowledged in the city of Santa Clara,blessed by the nearby tobacco fields in Manicaragua, Remedios and Cabaiguan.The business was on the right track. But soon after, the older brother died andthe cigar factory passed on to the hands of somebody else within the family andAmado Trinidad found himself heir to a fortune of 2 000 000 pesos (thenequivalent to dollars) due to his sharein the business of which he semi-retired early. The factory kept producingsmokes but the cigarette arm of the business was going better in Havana wherecompetition in the cigar business was pretty tough. Amado kept an insignificantshare of the cigarette business since operations in Havana needed to besupervised and they’d rather keep the brandname alive than giving up.

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He then moved to Havanacity to do what he always wanted to do. His dream of becoming a greatentrepreneur in radio broadcasting was getting closer and closer. He appointeda friend to take care of the cigar/cigarette business in Havana and forgotabout it. Circa 1940, he founded in Prado St. the RHC Cadena Azul (standing forRadio Habana Cuba) that aired the first radio soap opera.

That radio soap was called Adventuresof Pepe Cortes (a tropical Robin Hood who stole from the rich riding a horsecalled Bolt) and these romantic episodes turned him into a very wealthy man rapidlysince the audience was above 80% during the day. He was the first to hirecountry talented artists and presented them on the radio to sing country songs.He paid equal salary to black and whites, making no distinctions. He hired manywriters, musicians, artists so competitors were jealous. In 1944, a Cat 5 hurricane battered Havanapretty badly and his headquarters in Prado crumbled down. He bought a newlocation and reinstated the business. Although he was never interested insmoking, he started doing it frequently. The famous anecdote in the late 40’stell us that Amado lit a cigar with a hundred dollar bill in front of manybusinessmen while gathered in a celebration.

He built himself a luxury house in thenewly posh district of Miramar, in the corner of 5th Ave and 28thSt. (currently the Embassy of Hungary) Rival stations were battling against himand new Media tycoon Mr. Goar Mestre found a way to get rid of Amado Trinidad.He started supporting him with publicity, ads, and promotion while he wasbuying out rivals like the giant CMQ who was forced to sell. When Mestre becamestronger, he put pressure on Amado who was forced to sell the business in 1952to the then dictator Batista. They agreed on a price, shook hands, and timepassed on and Batista never gave him the money.

In the Habanos guide there’s nohistorical reference to the brand which is very sad no matter the former brandhad disappeared. It could appear to the eyes of the newbies that there’s nopast before 1998 when the brand was successfully launched to the world marketduring a gala dinner at the Habana Libre Hotel. (formerly known as HavanaHilton) Prior to that, the brand waspresented to attendees at the Dinner of the Century held in Paris, 1994 by theCigar Aficionado Publisher Marvin Shanken.

According to Habanos s.a., the brandwas created in 1969. Also the Habanos official guide states that the brand wasnamed after the city of Trinidad founded in 1514 as homage to its beautifulcolonial architecture. Rumour has it that at the very beginning the brandcalled Trinidad rolled at El Laguito, produced only one model with the nameTrinidad as well (a long panatela) measuring 38 ring gauge and 192 mm long(same as Laguito No 1)… after all they were rolled at the same factory but itwas discontinued shortly after. Then, they decided to increase the fillerproportion a bit, and the 40 girthwas instated to this model now call Fundadores with its own characteristicblend and featuring the pigtail on the tip and aimed at being used asdiplomatic gifts of the Cuban Republic as well. There were given out todiplomats in bundles of 25 and 50’s. Someone came up with the idea of packagingthe cigars in bundles of 24’s which was considered kind of shocking in thoseearly days but the idea took shape later when the brand started to becommercially available. Only one model.The Fundadores was available at the beginning and later in the winter of 2003,the Coloniales (girth 44 x 132 mm), the Robusto Extra (girth 50 x 155 mm) andthe Reyes (girth 50 x 110 mm) were added. Then appeared the Robustos T in theregular portfolio and the Short Robusto within the Limitadas concept.

What about the Trinidad y Hno factory?Well, Amado Trinidad was pretty naïve and he signed everything they would put infront of him so many of his former friends usually stole money from him. Needlessto say, he lost everything. The Trinidad brand now was in hands of a oncefriend who had turned his back on him. The brand seems to be in productionuntil 1958.

He rocked bottom. Backstabbed byfriends and short of money, his wife took his daughter from him. Having toomuch pressure on his heart, he ended up selling his house and moving 40 kmsouth of Havana, in the middle of nowhere. In 1955, all the newspapers releasedstriking news: the beloved Amado Trinidad hang himself from a mango tree. That’sthe story.

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Wow. Quite the story. Thanks, Rob and Jose, for sharing that with us. It's kind of refreshing and nice to hear of these extra little stories behind some of the brands and their factories. Quite the history to Trinidad then, all over the place. Glad to have taken the time to read this.

Thanks again. Cheers.

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really good story, goes to show history and life can be more interesting than all the marketing dross. thanks so much for sharing with us.

now we can think about Amado Trinidad's tragic life next time we puff on a cigar... so that whatever lesson there is to be had from it is not lost.

now if habanos had that written up that kind of history for each brand, inside the dress boxes and on the website, they would be on to a winner. The involvement of Batista is very revolution-friendly stuff as well so i can't see the powers that be minding. any way you could stage a takeover of Habanos marketing Jose? ;)

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Great article! Rob, is there anyway you can move Jose's article to classic posts, his own section in the forum or a section for special articles. Once they get buried in "water hole" they will be hard to find.

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Great article! Rob, is there anyway you can move Jose's article to classic posts, his own section in the forum or a section for special articles. Once they get buried in "water hole" they will be hard to find.

Jason is updating FOH to move into a front page magazine look with Featured writers of which Jose is one. All his articles will be transferred to there. Should be 3-4 weeks away.

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Jason is updating FOH to move into a front page magazine look with Featured writers of which Jose is one. All his articles will be transferred to there. Should be 3-4 weeks away.

Fantastic! Great minds think alike!

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Thats a great idea! This is a fantastic read. Very informative. Where does Jose dig up all this interesting info? Must take alot of research.

People bag HSA but Jose was part of the fold for 10 years. He is one of the most passionate cigar people I know. He is also a great human being and a brother to me. He loves the land...the vegueros....the history. Stand by for more ;)

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The Fundadores was available at the beginning and later in the winter of 2003,the Coloniales (girth 44 x 132 mm), the Robusto Extra (girth 50 x 155 mm) andthe Reyes (girth 50 x 110 mm) were added. Then appeared the Robustos T in theregular portfolio and the Short Robusto within the Limitadas concept.

The Ingenios (EL, 2007) has been forgotten by the author…

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Once Again Jose, brilliant brilliant Article. What a great read while having my coffee this morning. Cannot wait for the next one! HOpe you are well and having fun in Havana with Nino and friends!

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Dear Prez,

Is Jose considering collecting all his articles in a book form? That would be a wonderful volume!!! You should push him in that direction if he has not considered it yet.

Best,

Michel

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Wonderful write up of a great yet tragic story. Thanks for sharing this with us Jose...

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