Through boom and bust, war and peace, our people have stood by us, they are truly the pillars and backbone of who we are. Meet our beloved Francisca González, known affectionately as Panchita. She’s been part of the Joya de Nicaragua family for the entire time the factory has been in operation. Her story deserves to be shared, she’s the reflection of hard work, love, resilience and redemption.

Joya de Nicaragua’s Matriarch

When Panchita speaks of the company, she puts a hand on her heart.

“My life”, she says, simply. “This place is my life. These people are my family.”

For years, Panchita learned the ins and outs of working with tobacco. “I was just a girl and my family needed money,” she says, “my sister told me there was a job here. I started work in the de-veining area. I had to learn fast, but I did well and I was promoted through the different areas.” 

Now she’s Head of Quality Control and casts an eagle eye over the entire cigar making process from beginning to end, her knowledge is indispensable to Joya de Nicaragua. Other factories, desperate to capture her years of experience and dedication to perfection, have repeatedly tried to entice her away. But Panchita is not for moving.

“Why would I want to go anywhere else?” she frowns. “I never thought about moving. I’m still learning something here every day. When you make cigars, every little detail has a place and a time and you need to get it right. Putting on the ring, the packaging, the stickers – it’s very detailed work. You have to concentrate to get it all done.”

Panchita: A Lady With A Warm Smile

panchita

Panchita still gets up at 4.30 am each day to tend to her two grandchildren – she’s a mother of three and has no less than nine grandchildren in total. She leaves her house at 6.20am to walk to the bus and won’t be back home for another 12 hours. By 7 am she is at the factory, drawing up her work plan for the day. And this is Panchita taking it easy; she used to walk an hour and a half to and from work. Even when there was no money in the company coffers to pay her, she continued to turn up to work.

Back in the days, she remembers being stopped by armed guards on the way to work; seeing bodies in the street; watching planes drop bombs on her city. One lunchtime a rebel gunman opened fire while she queued in the bank. 

She witnessed first-hand her country’s troubles and speaks of these things as if they were just part of everyday life back then. In true Nicaraguan style, she has never forgotten – but accepted, moved on. Her focus has always been towards a brighter future.

A Lifetime’s Dedication

How will she fill her time in retirement after a lifetime’s dedication to this old factory and its people?

“I’ll stay at home,” she says, simply. “I’ll rest. The young people here are very smart. They’ll use the knowledge they’ve learned. The company is strong.”

Her warm smile disappears for a few seconds, there is sadness in her eyes when talk gets round to retirement. Panchita has worked among the bales and leaves of tobacco, the factory and its people are like family to her. This bond, this emotional glue, binds Joya de Nicaragua, its cigars and its workers.

Let’s hear it from Panchita herself:

Have Your Say!

What are your thoughts on the story of our resilient Panchita? Have you met her? Leave your comments in the section below!