Be careful what you take on. You can spike your blog hits and comments. Things can develop lives of their own. You can be insulted again and again. And you can learn interesting tidbits from others. Skdadl (of Peace, order and good government, eh?) taught me about Bacardi's involvement with bringing about the Helms-Burton Act in the USA. And, she provided quotes from a review of Bacardi: The Hidden War, by Hernando Calvo Ospina:
Bacardi has had dealings with the CIA and the extreme right-wing National Cuban-American Foundation (CANF) as well as links with both political and violent attempts to overthrow the Cuban government …
Bacardi has sought to use US laws to put a stranglehold on Cuban trade. This includes sponsoring the Helms-Burton Act that tightens the 40-year blockade. The author comments that “the text is so severe and over-arching that doubtless not even the laws and treaties imposed on African colonies by the European powers have contained such a degree of arrogance and lack of respect for a sovereign nation.
Bacardi lawyers were also heavily involved in writing the new trade laws that mean Cuban brands are no longer recognized in the US. Havana Club rum’s French partner Pernod-Ricard (the major competitor to Bacardi) has convinced the European Union that such moves are an infringement of fair-trading laws.
And there's more. A quick visit to google found this article at The Nation.
The Secret History of Rum
Rum has always tended to favor and flavor rebellion, from the pirates and buccaneers of the seventeenth century to the American Revolution onward. In addition, sugar and rum pretty much introduced globalization to a waiting world, tying together Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Caribbean in a complex alcoholic web of trade and credit. Not until oil was any single commodity so important for world trade. So it is not surprising that the Bacardi Corporation has become one of the world's first transnationals.
Even before Fidel Castro took power, the Bacardi family moved its headquarters from its Cuban home to the Bahamas, allowing it to get British imperial trade preferences, while opening a large distillery in Puerto Rico to allow penetration of the American market. Now its management is mostly living in exile in Florida, monopolizing the local markets across the Caribbean and the world with its bland, branded spirit. Fifty years of marketing have made Bacardi almost synonymous with rum in much of North America, and as Thierry Gardère, maker of the acclaimed Haitian rum Barbancourt, pointed out with a pained expression to me once, "They always advertise it as mixed with something else."
In Prohibition-era America, lots of thirsty Americans went to Cuba, and what they drank there, in keeping with the ambience, was rum, usually in cocktails and often in bars favored by Fidel's onetime fishing partner, Ernest Hemingway. He made a clear distinction: "My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita."
Cuba made great rums and had some of the world's most renowned bars. Bacardi had really risen to prominence after the American occupation, or "liberation" (sounds familiar?), of Cuba, at the turn of the twentieth century, when the island became the playground for its northern neighbor. Barcardi built its market position during Prohibition, edging out the old New England rum. When the Eighteenth Amendment took force, Bacardi USA sold 60,000 shares, closed down the company and distributed its assets, coincidentally 60,000 cases of Bacardi rum, to the stockholders.
During the dry years the company's order books would suggest that there were unquenchable thirsts in Shanghai, Bahamas and tiny islands like the French enclave of St. Pierre and Miquelon, off Newfoundland. But of course, shiploads of Bacardi went to rendezvous with the rum-runners just outside American territorial waters. As soon as repeal was in sight, Bacardi litigated all the way up to the Supreme Court to open its business in Puerto Rico, where it was eager to get Caribbean costs combined with American nationality. Its rivals in Puerto Rico used the same style of targeted retrospective legislation that Bacardi later did against Castro's Cuba in an attempt to keep Bacardi out. In the first year after Prohibition, Bacardi sold almost a million bottles to the United States. But soon it was not selling it from Cuba. Despite the family's overt and noisy Cuban patriotism, the company pioneered outsourcing and supplied the United States from Puerto Rico. Cuba's share of American rum imports dropped from 52 percent in 1935 to 7.3 percent in 1940.
If you feel motivated, please contact the makers of the bad ad. I used to enjoy Bacardi Amber Rum, but I'll never drink it again. Here's something from the Boycott Bacardi website.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BACARDI
Rock around the Blockade, which campaigns in solidarity with Cuba, has launched a Boycott Bacardi campaign to highlight the organised attempts by the Bacardi company to undermine the Cuban Revolution – a stance belied by its publicity for its apparently ‘Cuban’ rum.
In advertising its lead brand white rum, Bacardi plays on its Cuban roots, misleading drinkers into believing that Bacardi still has some links with the island. In fact the Bacardi empire is based in the Bahamas and the Bacardi company broke all ties with Cuba after the Revolution of 1959, when its cronies in the hated Batista dictatorship were overthrown by a popular guerrilla movement led by Fidel Castro and Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
Since then the Bacardi company has backed illegal and violent attempts to undermine the Cuban Revolution, including funding the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), a virulently anti-Castro right-wing exile organisation based in Miami, which has been responsible for systematic acts of terrorism against Cuba. Bacardi’s lawyers also helped draft the US Helms-Burton Act, which extends the United States’ blockade of Cuba to third countries, in breach of international trade law. So central was the role of Bacardi’s lawyer, Ignacio E Sanchez (a CANF member) in establishing Helms-Burton that US Senator William Dengue said the law should be renamed the Helms-Bacardi Protection Act.
Imagine the great story the Prairie Dog could have had if they'd only begun to question the ad!
I wish I felt vindicated. I just feel sad.
Thanks, skdadl, for the lead.