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Written by Puff Staff

Friday, 09 March 2007

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daniel ortegafelipe gregorio
felipe gregorio nicaraguan factury closureindustry updates
nicaragua
Philip Wynne, founder and president of Felipe Gregorio, Inc., announced he is moving his entire operation to the Dominican Republic. The month of January, 2007 saw the inauguration of leftist Daniel Ortega as president of Nicaragua. It also saw the first cigar manufacturer’s abandonment of its Nicaraguan facilities, when Philip Wynne, founder and president of Felipe Gregorio, Inc., announced he is moving his entire operation to the Dominican Republic. Wynne cites two reasons for the move: an increasing level of manufacturing activity in the DR, but mainly the election of Ortega. “I established Felipe Gregorio’s Nicaraguan operation in 1993,” states Wynne, “not long after the final shots were fired in the Ortega’s Sandinistas in a war with the U.S.-backed Contras. Fighting had been especially heavy in northern Nicaragua, where our Condega factory was located. His power-grab resulted in his communist government ... and him personally ... ‘nationalizing’ all farms and factories in our industry, just as did Fidel Castro. This was especially true in the Condega area. Now, anti-Americanism is gaining ground in Central America, and I see no reason Ortega will not return to business as usual. I would like to think we are looking at a new Daniel Ortega, but the news reports say differently. I hope this is not the case, and I wish all others in tobacco and cigars the best, but I choose not to lose all my Nicaraguan holdings.” Wynne’s partners in Agro Tabaco, the Nicaraguan company that makes Felipe Gregorio and other brands, are Omar Ortéz and Flor de Copan. Ortéz will continue to manage the company, and Wynne will retain his shares of Agro Tabaco, at least for the present. Says Wynne, “Lives and property were lost as a result of Ortega’s Sandinista movement. Once again, he is promising better lives for the peasants, but his record shows differently. Nicaraguans have the right to elect Ortega, but I likewise choose not to do business in a country led by a man who has been at war with the United States. Nicaraguans are wonderful people, and I regret having to leave, but I do not see a bright future there.” Wynne will continue to manufacture all existing lines of Felipe Gregorio cigars, and will continue to use Nicaraguan, as well as other, tobacco in them. He feels Ortega will continue to supply tobacco, as it is one of the country’s few profitable cash crops.



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