Santiago and the Cibao Valley Feature

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A Cigar Family's Charitable Trust

What you see when you drive the dirt road to Chateau de la Fuente, the tobacco plantation of Arturo Fuente Cigars, looks like a dream vision. Rising from an uncultivated field is a pristine yellow-and-white complex that includes a primary school, a high school, medical clinic, laboratory, pharmacy, multiuse community center, baseball stadium, and basketball and volleyball courts. The Arturo Sandoval School of Music is now open and a source of joy for the students. The Cigar Family Charitable Foundation built this rural miracle, and the United Nations has recognized it as a prototype for schools in the Caribbean.

In 1992, when Carlos Fuente Jr. (Carlito) and his father, Carlos Fuente, bought these cow pastures, they were nothing but mud; the road was nearly impassable. Ragged children would run alongside the car and beg, an activity that continued until 2004, when the Fuente family charity and the Newman family, their distribution partners in the United States, built this complex.

Additional donations have been received, including a bus from Metro Bus Company; a communal kitchen from a major restaurant group; and a baseball stadium, sponsored by Marvin Shanken, publisher of Cigar Aficionado. In a country where litter is omnipresent and schools are dirty and scrawled with graffiti, this one still looks brand-new, with landscaping as attractive as that of a gated, residential community. The school houses 448 students, and has added a 12th grade; the first high-school graduation was in 2009.

The Foundation's generosity extends to the community, with an astounding litany of outreach projects already completed: construction of clean-water stations; extension of electricity to homes, new bridges over rivers; the road paved; new sanitation programs; repairs to existing community health facilities and schools; nutrition, prenatal, and preventative medicine programs.

Unlike many other organizations, 100% of every dollar contributed goes directly to the charitable projects. The Fuentes and Newman families underwrite all administrative, legal, accounting, office, and marketing costs.

Carlito Fuente is a deeply caring, sensitive, and sincere person who transmits his energy and passion to those he encounters. "There is no greater love than that of family," Carlito says ardently. Now he has an extended family with two branches—his cigar family of friends and associates, who have helped make all this possible, and the children and families within some 11 communities who consider him their beloved patriarch.

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