CubaBrief: Bacardi continues to battle for private property rights opposing the Castro regime, but now begins a new battle against a new enemy, the coronavirus

Bacardi is linked intrinsically to Cuba with a shared history that stretches back to the company’s founding in 1862, the struggle for Cuban national independence, and resistance to all of Cuba’s dictatorships combined with a strong sense of civic engagement.

Bacardi continues this tradition in its battle for private property rights, defending the Arechabala family’s Havana Club trademark from the predations of the Castro regime.

Now they are fighting a new enemy, the coronavirus.

The rum maker is tweaking its production line to  make “1.7 million 10-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer, much of which is being given to police, nurses, non-profits and others” battling coronavirus on the frontlines.

This change to the production line began on March 17th.

Bacardi has also set up a $ 3 million dollar fund to provide financial support, meals and other necessities to help bar owners and bar staff.

The Miami Herald,  March 24, 2020

Rum to the rescue? How Bacardi is tweaking production to fight the coronavirus

By Jim Wyss

Bacardi is tweaking its production line to make hand sanitizer, against COVID-19. Courtesy Bacardi

Bacardi is tweaking its production line to make hand sanitizer, against COVID-19. Courtesy Bacardi

San Juan, Puerto Rico. – While the coronavirus may be driving us to drink, there’s a more pressing issue: washing our hands.

Now, one of the world’s largest rum factories, the Bacardi plant in Puerto Rico, has tweaked its production lines to pump out ethanol needed to make hand sanitizers.

Olein Refinery, a Puerto Rican manufacturer, is using the Bacardi alcohol to produce more than 1.7 million 10-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer, much of which is being given to police, nurses, non-profits and others on the frontlines of the coronavirus.

Jose Class, the vice president of supply chain and manufacturing for Bacardi in Latin America and the Caribbean, said that, to his knowledge, this production shift is unprecedented since the Puerto Rican branch of the company was founded in 1936.

“I don’t think we even did something like this during World War II,” he said.

The sprawling, 127-acre complex in Cataño, on the northern coast, produces 80 percent of Bacardi’s rum, or the equivalent of 200 million bottles a year, and employs about 400 people.

A worker at the Bacardi rum factory in Puerto Rico. Courtesy Bacardi

A worker at the Bacardi rum factory in Puerto Rico. Courtesy Bacardi

Other Bacardi sites are following suit. The Bacardi Bottling Corporation in North Jacksonville, Florida, will begin producing 120,000 units of hand sanitizers this week, all of which will be donated. And eight other plants in six countries are expected to join the effort.

While the Puerto Rican plant has never had to deal with a pandemic before, it has seen its share of business adversity on the battered island, Class said.

After Hurricanes Maria and Irma raked the island, along with other parts of the Caribbean and Florida, in 2017, the company put $3 million into relief efforts.

While there are parallels between this health crisis and the hurricanes, which produced widespread infrastructure collapse, there are also key differences, Class said.

“What the community needed [after Maria] was different. Then, they needed food, water, a little bit of joy,” he said. Now what the island needs are ways to stay clean and disinfected amid a rapidly moving and contagious virus.

The temporary production shift began March 17 and will continue as long as needed — and it won’t affect rum production, the company said.

The initiative comes as Puerto Rico is entering a second week of lockdown and curfew in hopes of curtailing the spread of the virus. As of Tuesday, the U.S. territory of 3.2 million had reported 39 cases and two deaths.

As the U.S. government has acknowledged that the health crisis could leave hospitals overrun, it’s been asking the private sector to play a bigger role. On Sunday, President Donald Trump said he’d given Ford, GM and Tesla the go-ahead to retrofit their production lines to churn out hospital ventilators.

Class said this crisis is one where everyone gets to be part of the solution.

“We have ways to fight this. Just the simple act of washing your hands and being careful about your social interactions helps,” he said. “We need to overcome this as soon as possible so we can start celebrating again.”

Jim Wyss covers Latin America for the Miami Herald and was part of the team that won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for its work on the “Panama Papers.” He and his Herald colleagues were also named Pulitzer finalists in 2019 for the series “Dirty Gold, Clean Cash.” He joined the Herald in 2005.

Fox News,  March 24, 2020

Bacardi leads liquor brands in coronavirus donations to unemployed workers

As part of its #RaiseYourSpirits campaign, Bacardi is donating $3M to food and drink workers

By Shawn M. CarterFOXBusiness

As the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll and bars and restaurants across the United States, some big brands are stepping up to help workers who have been impacted.

One of those brands is Bacardi.

The liquor maker on Tuesday launched the #RaiseYourSpirits campaign, which promises $3 million in financial aid and support to struggling food and drink businesses. That funding is in addition to another $1 million pledged by the company’s Patron brand last week.

“Bacardi is a family company, and for us, business is personal. We don’t have all the answers today on how best to help everywhere, but we are committed to do what we can to see our industry through this crisis,” Bacardi Limited Chief Executive Officer Mahesh Madhavan said in a statement to FOX Business.

“These may be the darkest of days for bars and restaurants, but I am certain that when we come out on the other side, people will emerge from isolation with a renewed zest to live life to the fullest and celebrate together.”

Bacardi’s donation will go directly to established nonprofits that can quickly provide aid to workers on the frontlines, including Another Round, Another Rally, CORE, the James Beard Foundation, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation and Tales of the Cocktail.

But Bacardi isn’t the only brand donating.

“Dead Pool” actor Ryan Reynolds, the owner of Aviation Gin, announce the #TipYourBartenders initiative, which will kick off with a $15,000 donation to the United States Bartenders Guild and will add an additional 30 percent tip for every bottle delivered through online partners like Drizzly, ReserveBar, MiniBar and Total Wine.

In addition to Bacardi and Aviation, restaurant mogul Danny Meyer is foregoing his entire compensation and instead donating it to the Union Square Hospitality Group, which owns a collection of eateries in New York. He also asked his executive team to take pay cuts.

Help is coming from local business owners, too. Bryan Morin of Jersey Shore pizza shop Federico’s didn’t want his staff to take a financial hit, so he took out a $50,000 line of credit and promised to keep his 20 employees on the payroll.

There are roughly 50,000 COVID-19 cases in the country, and as part of efforts to flatten the curve, states across the country have told businesses to close and residents to stay home.

Early estimates suggest that at least a million workers could have lost their jobs in March: The Labor Department has reported the number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits jumped to 281,000 for the week ending March 14, the highest level since June 2017, and the numbers of people seeking unemployment benefits could surge.