The Cámara Nicaragüense de Tabacaleros (Nicaraguan Chamber of Tobacco) has announced the election of its new board of directors, which will serve in their roles for the next two years.

Manuel Ernesto Rubio Centeno, who is the operations manager of La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate, is the new president of the board. He replaces Claudio Sgroi in the position, who called his tenure “a great honor to serve the CNT and all its members.” Sgroi noted that his term included the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the cancellation of the last two Puro Sabor Festivals, the Nicaraguan cigar festival hosted by the CNT. While the in-person version of the event was canceled, Sgroi led the push to host a virtual event in 2021, which gave consumers and manufacturers the chance to interact over the internet. Despite this, Sgroi’s tenure also saw the country’s premium cigar industry strengthen its global leadership position.

Rubio acknowledged that the Chamber faces challenges, notably “to sustain the growth rate of our industry, even exceeding 10% per year,” and said that a key part of that will be reducing migration and personnel turnover. Rubio added that he will lead the board in looking at how to strengthen the role of the CNT internally and externally, notably with its community and partners.

The rest of the CNT board will be made up of the following individuals:

  • Vice-President: Eduardo Sandino Aguilar (Tabacalera Oliva de Estelí S.A.)
  • Secretary: Victor Calvo Guerrero (Tabacalera Tambor S.A.)
  • Treasurer: Doña Carmen Vázquez (Estelí Cigars S.A.)
  • First Member: Néstor Andrés Plasencia (Plasencia Cigars S.A.)
  • Second Member: Ariath Zeledón (Scandinavian Tobacco Group Estelí S.A.)
  • Third Member: Sancho Oset (Cigar Rings S.A.)

The Nicaraguan Chamber of Tobacco is an organization established in 2008 that represents the interests of the most important tobacco and cigar producers in Nicaragua. Its 25 members represent 95 percent of the entire national production of tobacco and cigars, with the premium tobacco industry directly employing more than 40,000 people according to a press release.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.