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Lázaro Peña, the Leader of Tobacco Workers

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Black, poor and born in the neighborhood of Los Sitios in Havana, with those conditions, in that republic, it was really impossible to achieve his dream to become a violinist. But Lázaro Peña had a star, that of the fighters, of integrity in all its strength.
Like many children of his time he had to find a way to help support his family because, after the death of his father, the family economy deepened and it was his mother, a humble tobacco worker, who opened the doors to that tradition, transmitted among generations and that places Cuban tobacco as the best in the world.

Lazaro cultivated that inheritance bequeathed by the aborigines, which has more than 500 years of history and identity and in which men and women elaborate by hand the famous Habanos, as the final product is known in the international market.

Whenever his activities at the head of the trade union movement allowed him, he used to go to the factory to share with his co-workers, who in honor of his birth celebrate every May 29 the Day of Tobacco Workers.

Of the importance of this crop for Cuba it would suffice to say that, to manufacure a Cohiba, a Montecristo, a Partagás, a Romeo and Julieta, a Hoyo de Monterrey or an H. Upmann (the six best-known Cuban global brands in the world), more than 500 manual processes are needed, including agricultural and factory processes.

It must be said that the 2018-2019 tobacco campaign includes more than 600 productive forms, of them some 20 state companies and the rest in forms of cooperative or private property, which includes around 200,000 people.
Today, it is necessary to remember the leader of the tobacco workers who with only 18 years old, he asked to join the Communist Party of Cuba, founded in 1925 by Julio Antonio Mella and Carlos Baliño, which in 1929 became an organization outlawed by the tyrant Gerardo Machado, just after rising to power.

The thin and clever young man, within the underground party, distributed proclamations and participated in protests and since 1934 he integrated its Central Committee, later he was elected as Secretary General of the Tobacco Workers Union and member of the Executive Committee of the National Workers' Confederation of Cuba.

Those who knew him say that he gained the appreciation of all. He was honest, full of energy, a music lover, passionate about baseball and boxing, a self-taught spirit, with great sense of justice. However, from the workers' stands his words were critical and implacable against iniquities.

It was Lázaro Peña who denounced the murderer of the sugar leader Jesús Menéndez, from the same Manzanillo, where the General of the Cañas was killed.

He strongly opposed the outrages of the authentic governments (1944 - 1952), which created the monstrosity of “mujalismo”, a practice that undermined the unity of the Cuban labor movement.

The tyrant Fulgencio Batista did not allow him to enter Cuba, in October 1953, when he was returning from a trade union congress held in Vienna. With the triumph of the Revolution, he joined again, as a soldier, to the reorganization of the island's trade union movement.

The workers, and especially the tobacco workers, remember him as their martyr and eternal captain of the Working Class. At his funeral, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro said: "We do not come here to bury someone who has died. We come here to plant a seed.” In good soil, like ours for tobacco, that seed fructified daily.

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