Cibao Productive

Tobacco and its history in the Cibao

 El Tabaco y su historia en el Cibao

First of all, it is important to note that tainos or indians (as the Spaniards called them) they inhabited the larger islands of the Caribbean, such as Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

The Tainos had a culture that was based on the subsistence farming activity, having knowledge of the plants and leaves for medicinal use and for the performance of rituals.

In order to know in more detail the characteristics and properties of the items found in America and the Caribbean (unknown in Spain and the rest of Europe, until then), Christopher Columbus returned to his nation with samples of corn, cocoa, tomato, green pepper, potato, tropical fruits and tobacco, among other items.

It is very clear that for the first Spaniards who colonized the continent, seeing the indigenous people with theThe habit of blowing smoke from the mouth and nose, turned out to be a shocking fact and an act of savagery. However, they brought tobacco to Spain.

According to historians of the time, the people who brought tobacco to Spain and explained how to use it were imprisoned and persecuted by the authorities and by the Catholic Church through the inquisition. It was argued that smoking from the mouth was synonymous with witchcraft or that it was an influence of the devil.

Later, the doctors of that time considered that the tobacco leaves had therapeutic and healing properties. On the other hand, this product became popular among kings and personalities of their environment in Spain, France and England, who at first only used it for medicinal purposes, later it was also consumed for recreational use. Although the use of tobacco did not have the approval of the European church, it was becoming more and more popular.

It was understood that the highest quality tobacco was harvested in Hispaniola (especially in Cibao) and in Cuba, due to their geographical, environmental and good climate conditions..

On the other hand, on our island some Spaniards from the colonization learned to consume tobacco, of which they became addicted. Over the years, the country harvested tobacco on a small scale and specifically for the consumption of a small population (mostly in the Cibao region), but then it began to be cultivated for commercial purposes.

Around the year 1750 The first tobacco factory for national consumption and for export is installed in Santiago de los Caballeros, with the involvement of tobacco producers and small merchants, whose tradition was maintained through father to son, for generations.

Undoubtedly, this event marked the beginning of the economic development of Santiago de los Caballeros, which resulted in changes in social patterns in this region of the country. It is important to note that for the time, tobacco production was the only relevant economic activity in the Cibao, above the subsistence or small-scale economy between towns.

Finally, we want to highlight that in the rest of the country an economy based on the cultivation of sugar cane was imposed (southern region, capital and eastern area), with few owners and a large amount of black labor in conditions of slavery. However, in the Cibao region the situation was completely different, since the economy was based on tobacco, other agricultural products (given the fertility of the Cibao Valley) and livestock, with many small and medium independent producers being little presence of black slaves.

Such differences have been translated throughout our history in the entrepreneurial and industrious character of the people of Cibao.

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