Bacardi is the world’s largest rum company and one of the biggest producers of spirits in the world, with sales valued at over $5 billion per year. But is its popularity deserved?
Bacardi regularly markets itself as an authentic Cuban rum, emphasising the fact that it was established in Cuba in 1862. However, Bacardi is neither produced nor consumed in Cuba and since the revolution in 1959, the Bacardi company has consistently acted to reinforce the United States’ blockade of Cuba.
In his exposé of the company’s campaign against the revolution, the Colombian journalist, Hernando Calvo Ospina, showed how Bacardi has devoted millions of dollars of its profits over the years to the destabilisation of the country, including critical support for the Helms-Burton Act of 1996.
So, if you want to drink an authentic rum from Cuba, order a Cuban brand such as Havana Club. Not only does it taste better, you’ll also be demonstrating your solidarity with Cuba.
Did you know?
- The Bacardi company is worth over $3 billion but not a penny of its sales goes to the Cuban economy. The rum they sell is made elsewhere and their HQ is in Bermuda, not in Cuba
- In 1994, Bacardi wrote to all foreign drinks firms, including British brewers, warning them not to invest in their former companies in Cuba
- In 1996, senior Bacardi officials were instrumental in support for the Helms Burton Act. This law made it an offence for foreign firms to invest in properties nationalised by the revolutionary government, including Bacardi’s former properties. In US congressional circles the legislation was referred to as the ‘Bacardi bill’.
- In 1998, Bacardi lobbied for another law, known as Section 211, which has had the effect of derecognising Cuba’s nationalisation of the trademark ‘Havana Club’. Bacardi has marketed a rum called ‘Havana Club’ in the USA, however it is made in Puerto Rico, not Cuba.
- Bacardi used Section 211 to try and force EU countries to recognise that it is the owner of the ‘Havana Club’ brand name. This has been denounced as piracy by the Cuban government.
- In 2016, following the thaw in Cuba-US relations during the Obama administration, the US government awarded a trademark for ‘Havana Club’ to the Cuban state-owned ‘Cubaexport’ and Pernod Ricard, their international distribution partner
- Bacardi are currently engaged in attempts to challenge the trademark, however a lawsuit brought against the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) was defeated in a US federal court in April 2022.
- For over fifty years, Bacardi has devoted millions of dollars of its profits towards destabilising the sovereign Cuban government. This has included funding assassination attempts and terrorist attacks. See Bacardi – The Hidden War for more information.
What can you do?
- Boycott Bacardi and buy authentic Cuban rum such as Havana Club
- Order copies of the Boycott Bacardi leaflet to distribute outside bars, clubs and venues that have a Cuban theme but stock Bacardi instead of authentic Cuban rum. Email email@example.com for more information
- Ask your local supermarket, off-licences, pubs and clubs to stock authentic rum from Cuba
- Raise this issue with your friends, college or university bar and ask them to drink or stock authentic Cuban rum. In the past, Warwick University, SOAS and Sheffield University have all passed motions in favour of banning Bacardi on campus. If you’d like to do the same, you can download a model motion below.
THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK. BOYCOTT BACARDI
- Download the Boycott Bacardi leaflet
- Download the Boycott Bacardi model motion
- Read Bacardi: The Hidden War
Bacardi: The Hidden War
Colombian journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina's exposé of the anti-Cuba activities of the Bacardi company is full of revelations, including how Bacardi's boss once plotted to assassinate Fidel Castro, the company's role in promoting laws that strengthened the US blockade and how Bacardi men were at the heart of the Bush administration