This story starts like most stories in Cuba: we asked a super-friendly local (the owner of our favorite breakfast restaurant in Viñales) if he knew of anyone who could show us around some tobacco farms. He made a few calls, and about an hour later we met up with Edrey.
First, we visited a tobacco drying house.
The owner of this house was an English professor in a past life who quit his job to be a farmer. He makes far more money selling tobacco to tourists than he ever did teaching. He’s concerned about the future of education in Cuba because many people like him are abandoning their posts.
Consider that he sells hand-rolled cigars for $40 for a pack of 10. He may make $120 in a single afternoon, while a university professor salary would be closer to $40/month!
Farmers are only allowed to keep, sell, and profit from 10% of their tobacco crop. The other 90% is tithed to the Cuban Government, to be processed in factories, labeled, and sold in government-owned shops.