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Sr. Linares' favorite cigar was the Partagas 898 Varnished, not the Cohiba exquisito, as reported by Savona.

Cigar Aficionado Online
Former Cuban Cigar Head Dies
Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2003
By David Savona

Francisco Linares, the former head of Habanos S.A., the global distribution and marketing organization for Cuban cigars, died of a stroke on September 6 in Havana. He was 67.

Linares served as the head of Habanos for a little more than four years, beginning in 1995, but he achieved a great deal over that short period. Under his presidency, he launched three cigar brands: Cuaba, Trinidad and San Cristobal de la Habana. He also started a campaign against counterfeit cigars, focusing the attention of the Cuban government as well as the world on the problem.

In addition, Linares initiated a controversial policy of increasing the production of Cuban cigars by geometric proportions. Annual Cuban cigar exports went from about 60 million units to close to 170 million under his term.

"There is virtually no major market that we are not selling Habanos with the exception of the United States," Linares proudly said during the highest point of sales. "But Americans are still keen cigar smokers, buying them from other regions."

Of course, quality diminished greatly with the sudden increases in production. But Linares always believed he was doing the right thing. "It's been four great years and I feel that I have achieved a lot," he said when he retired in 1999. "Maybe some things I have done better than others, but I believe I achieved something."

Linares was always a great lover of tobacco, and his favorite cigar was the Cohiba Exquisito. He was born in the region of Pinar del Río, one of Cuba's prime growing areas for fine cigar tobacco, and he worked for decades with tobacco workers' unions in the Vuelta Abajo. His last assignment before taking the helm at Habanos was minister of labor in the Cuban government.

Linares is survived by Melia Hernandez and their three children: Francisco, Ciro and Osvaldo.
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