We are not to ask what our country can do for us, but to think on what we can do for our country. This mindset has been planted in the citizens of the United States of America through the famous words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. However, for immigrants that continue to embark into an unknown future in trying to reach the soil of an industrialized western country, evidently their principal goal is to achieve economic betterment and financial stability, thus hoping firstly that their new home will help them.
Certainly one effective way for immigrants to accept Kennedy’s challenging plea is to invest into the US-American society, not only with their sweat but by contributing with their cultural wealth. In 1974, two years after arriving in New York City, Antonio Martinez opened his cigar factory in the Flatiron district, precisely to culturally contribute to the country in which he had chosen to settle, understanding his responsibility to give.
Forty years later, under the direction of his son, Jesus, New York has to thank Martinez Handmade Cigars for its contribution to the wealthy, multi-cultural layer of this American metropolis. The factory is housed on a side street, just blocks from the iconic Flatiron building. It is vibrant space with the spirit, resilience and joy for life that many know from the folk of the Dominican Republic.
In a commercial space, consisting of no more than a 15 x 25 ft. ground floor and an even smaller basement (a space, smaller than any other high-end tobacco shop in the city) this family-run business produces more than six-hundred cigars daily, six days a week; welcomes locals, regulars and tourists to sit down in a friendly lounge atmosphere for a smoke; boxes cigars that are shipped throughout the USA, Europe and Asia on a daily basis to shops, lounges, bars and private houses; all the while the four house torcedores listen to Merenge and Bachata, eat avocado, drink some of their local drinks and talk about baseball – predominantly about the excellence of their many countrymen playing for the Major League Baseball teams in the USA and Canada. On weekends – after several hours of work – all gather for several domino matches.
Although for decades there have been a few great cigar producing companies in New York, this is the only one that produces directly in Manhattan, allowing the smoker to see firsthand how the cigars they are smoking have been aged, rolled, and boxed. This is not your common education on foreign cultures. For centuries, Western men have accumulated great wealth importing products from various exotic lands and islands into their prospering societies, but spices, vegetables, fruits and alcohol – even some coffee – are exported as finished product. The installment of a tobacco factory in New York City’s center creates a homemade product that contributes to the exporting power of the USA while creating an additional layer to the country’s culture. Such cultural enrichment is the root becoming a valuable citizen.