Victoriano Manteiga, the legendary founder and editor of La Gaceta, sailed to Tampa from Cuba in 1913. Born in Cuba in 1893 he came to a city that was vibrant, growing, and had long established ties to Cuba. It seemed a logical place to be for a young Latino in search of a greater life. When he landed in Tampa he had a ten dollar bill and two white, linen suits to his name. He rented a room on the upper story of El Encanto Cleaners and on his second day in the city went to work in The Morgan CigarFactory in West Tampa as a reader.
It was on the cigar industry that Victoriano Manteiga came to be known as an intellectual. As a reader to the cigar factory
workers, his job was not to read the materials in monotone voice, but to be adaptable enough to give feeling to the most touching novel, and fervor to the most impassioned political appeals.Printed matter in English often had to be translated on the spot. Not an easy task, for he had to fully grasp their meanings in order to effectively convey them.
A bus boy from Las Novedades Restaurant many years ago, once reminisced about watching Victoriano come in, sit at a table with other readers, and hold discussions as everyone gathered around to listen to them. The restaurant, brimming with aromas of Latin cuisine and Cuban coffee, served as their pulpit.
Manteiga received 25 cents every Friday from each cigar maker he read to a tidy sum for the early 20th century. Unfortunately, the cigar industry in both Tampa and Cuba was plagued by strikes. Naturally, when cigar workers went on strike, the readers would also be off the payroll. Although the Latin community had set up mutual aid societies which were invaluable to a good portion of the population in times of need, the increasing unpredictability of the strikes gave Victoriano cause for concern. Read more