Group of six women smiling at camera
Exilda Arjona Palmer, Yvonne Rodriguez, Show Producer Joenie Hilfer, Yvette Rodriguez, Vicky Ruiz-Labrit, and Michelle Sague

Afro-Cuban twin sisters talk race and gender relations on Radio Martí

Today Radio Martí’s Con Voz Propia (In One’s Own Voice), a show that frequently covers issues of race and gender in Cuba, featured entrepreneurial twin sisters Yvonne and Yvette Rodriguez, whose Miami-based boutique cigar line is breaking gender and race barriers.

The Rodriguez sisters told Radio Martí they were inspired by their cigar smoking grandmother, who taught them the value of appreciating their identity. Their signature cigar line, Tres Lindas Cubanas Cigars (Three Pretty Cubans) references race relations in the Cuban culture and features three distinct lines: La Negrita, La Mulata and La Clarita (Dark Skin, Mixed Race and Fair Skin). La Clarita was created using a light tobacco leaf and honors their grandmother’s light skin; La Negrita was inspired by the dark complexion of the twins; and La Mulata highlights the nuances of the different tobacco leaves and salutes mixed races that are so common in Cuba.

The sisters shared with Radio Martí listeners their experiences growing up in Miami and hearing stories about Cuba, and what it is like being mixed-race Cuban-American women in the predominately white- and male-dominated business of tobacco.