Readings at cigar factories, jewels of Cuban culture

Talking to any of those persons is a privilege to me. Odalys Lara Reyes has been a reader for 16 years at the Miguel Fernandez Roig or “La Corona” cigar factory – the biggest rolled cigar factory of the country -. She is proud of what she does there and states she feels happy while doing it.

Did you have any family influence to choose that job?

No, but I was always interested in announcing. I took a course on techniques of announcing with three great Cuban masters: Manolo Ortega, Angel Hernandez and Antonio Pera. After some time, I worked at “Radio Ciudad Bandera”, in the western province of Matanzas, and at “Radio Encyclopedia” in the capital, until I heard of an opening to work at “La corona” factory.

Do they still have the tradition that the workers choose the reader?

Yes, two men presented with me. We were reading for 20 days, at different times, until the cigar makers chose me for my diction, intonation and style of working.

What kind of readings do the cigar makers prefer?

Detective stories, testimonies, poems, advice for the family, issues on sexuality, psychology and herbal medicine.

Do you include issues related to language?

Yes, of course. I read something related to language every day. Actually, we created a section on good manners in speaking, in which I make emphasis on those words people do not used or pronounce correctly.

What is a normal day at work like?

Well, I read twice in the morning; 8:15 to 8:30 and 10:00 to 10:30. I announce the birthdays of the workers, the cafeteria menu and production plans of the factory. Then I read the daily press. The afternoon, from 1:30 to 2:00, is dedicated to novels.

What are the greatest satisfactions you have had on your job?

First of all, I have meet people whom I have respected and loved very much. Also, this work has taught me many values such as diligence, simplicity, honesty, solidarity and friendship. I appreciate them a lot.

I like it because my work is useful; also when we use audio some neighbors living near the factory can listen to me and seem to be interested in some issues since they tell me about it when I finish working and go out.

Do you also receive any institutional training?

Yes, for example the readers of Havana have a monthly meeting at the Cigar Museum, which is unique in America. It belongs to the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana. There, we receive lectures and courses of training improving our knowledge.

Odalys Lara knows that her work also contributes to increase the production of such coveted brands of cigars in the world market like “Hoyo de Monterrey”, “San Cristobal de La Habana”, “Montecristo”, “Romeo y Julieta” and “Diplomatico”.

All above, this cigar factory reader feels proud of working in a profession, which is considered a jewel of Cuban culture.

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