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MatanzasThe Cuba Nobody Knows$
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Miguel A. Bretos

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813038100

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813038100.001.0001

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Green Tobacco and a Clever Marquis

Green Tobacco and a Clever Marquis

(p.37) 4 Green Tobacco and a Clever Marquis

MIGUEL A. Bretos

University Press of Florida

The eighteenth century brought the modernizing French House of Bourbon to the Spanish throne. Of more immediate local significance was the monster hurricane of 1730, which literally washed the struggling settlement away. Tobacco culture, introduced by the Canary settlers, had become the region's economic mainstay. Matanzas's pungent green leaf, known as verdin, was milled into snuff using local hydraulic power, a monopoly held by a Havana magnate, the first Marquis of Justiz de Santa Ana. When the new Bourbon colonial government sought to impose the estanco, or tobacco monopoly, Justiz was able to secure an exemption that permitted him to continue milling until the use of snuff faded away with the ancien regime. To secure such advantages, he cultivated the support of the townspeople with such philanthropies as the building of the large parish church, which was finished in 1750.

Keywords:   Bourbon dynasty, estanco, tobacco, hurricanes, snuff, Parish church

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