The Cigar & the Revolution
Miguel A. Duque



Marti & Cigar makers 1893



Blas O'Halloran


O'Halloran Cigar, Co.




_The Cigar & the Revolution...

Millions of Tampa Cigars have gone out into the world as ambassador-of-good-will to be smoke into puff of fantasies, but the most famous cigar ever rolled in Tampa went out not as a Corona or a Presidente, but as a liberator to spark the cuban Revolution of 1895. This cigar cost thousands of lives, but won the independence of Cuba eventually.

The history of the cigar goes back to Jan.29, 1895, at the resident of Gonzalo De Quesada, secretary of the Cuban Revolutionary Party in New York City. Jose Marti, the leader of the Cuban crusade for the freedom, called a secret meeting of the revolutionary junta at the Quesada home. Present were General Jose Maria (Mayia) Rodriguez, representing General Maximo Gomez and General Enrique Collazo. Among the cubans patriots taking part, was Emilio Cordero, who later would become a prominent leader in the cigar industry.

A historic document was written in longhand on a single piece of white paper. Quesada with the message in his pocket that took the first train for Ybor City, (at the time the center of the Cuban revolutionary activities) in order to met there with Horatio Rubens an American attorney serving as advisor to the Cuban Revolutionary Party. At the Ybor city station, Quesada was met by Fernando Figueredo (chief of the party in Ybor), also there Theodore Perez, Martin Herrera and the brothers Blas and Estanislao O'Halloran and other patriots. At the time Ybor had become a nest of insurgents a side to be a cigar production center. The cigar makers were red hot rebels ardently supporting the cause of the independence.

Quesada conferred with local leaders on means of smuggling the message into Cuba. Was then when someone suggested concealing it in a cigar. Late one night, a few members of the revolutionary junta met at the O'Halloran Cigar Factory (Howard & Union St.) and Blas O'Halloran hand-made five cigars. The one concealing the message, the historic cigar or "Cigar of Liberty", was distinguishable by two tiny yellow specks on the tip of the cigar wrapper.

Days later, Quesada, with five cigars (Panetelas) in his pocket, sail to Key West. There he was met by Miguel Angel Duque De Estrada, the man chosen to deliver the message to Juan Gualberto Gomez, the insurgent chief of the island of Cuba. On the moonlit night of Thursday February 21, 1895, Estrada with the cigar in his pocket, boarded the Mascotte for the seething island. Arriving to the port of Havana, the courier calmly proceeded through routine customs inspection and passed out four cigars to the authorities of the port. At all times Estrada was holding the "loaded cigars" in his mouth as a prevention. Then he picked up his luggage and walked away into history. That night the cigar was delivered to Gomez in Havana during a meeting at the residence of Antonio Lopez Coloma at #74 Trocadero. The order for uprising called for the date not earlier than the second fortnight in February 24, 1895. This uprising fail, many were capture or kill, but the revolution was on and continued until freedom was obtain in 1898 due to the Hispano-American War and in 1903 the Independence of Cuba was obtain. For year the celebration of the "Carnavales" were also the celebration of the independence. Fidel Castro suspended the festivities, but Cubans continue celebrate "Los Carnavales" (the carnivals). Now you know the rest of the story...



Ref: Synopsis extracted for USF Special Collections -"The Cigar that Sparked a Revolution" by Tony Pizzo

Researcher: W. Reyes, Ph.D.

History Collection


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