CubaBrief: Cuba, Jacksonville and the nexus between environmental stewardship and private property rights: A call to action

It is a counterintuitive situation that runs counter to stereotypes, but facts are facts. A private company in Jacksonville, Florida is restoring acres of grassy fields with native plant species, wildflowers and native animal species while turning a profit bottling rum for sale. At the same time in Cuba a confiscated rum distillery run by a communist dictatorship is polluting the surrounding environment and creating a dead zone. The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire earlier this month reported on the phenomenon in Jacksonville:

“Bacardi Bottling Corporation site in Jacksonville, FL, the local team is responsible for more than bottling the world’s most awarded rum. An all-volunteer employee team at Bacardi also proudly adds gardener and wildlife caretaker to their duties – all for the sake of environmental sustainability. For their efforts, Bacardi has achieved recertification by the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) Conservation Certification, this year as a Silver Certified award, signifying leadership among the more than 600 WHC Conservation Certification programs. This is the fourth WHC certification for the Bacardi site in Jacksonville and second Silver Certified award. Since 2012, employee volunteers began converting the site’s grassy fields into native warm-season grasses and wildflowers and, today, 21 acres of native species embrace the campus. From blanket flower, black-eyed Susan, slender Indian grass, big bluestem, firebush, native milkweed and more. The latest addition is a pollinator garden that welcomes local birds and insects, such as Monarch butterflies, Zebra Longwing butterflies, European Honeybees, Bumblebees, mockingbirds, cardinals and more.”

Meanwhile, the Castro regime continues to sell their stolen version of Havana Club, that today “pumps 1,288 cubic meters of waste liquids into the Chipriona inlet in Cuba every day, mostly vinasse (a residual liquid remaining from the fermentation and distillation of alcoholic liquors). It has been doing that since the 1990s, although the problems became more acute starting in 2007,” according to Julio Batista in his 2017 report described the impact of this pollution as follows:

“The Chipriona inlet is a place where no one goes, where no one fishes, that doesn’t need a fence because no one wants to swim in the boiling filth that flows into its waters every day. The waters of what used to be a beach are now soupy and have the sour smell of decomposition. No studies about the marine life in the inlet are publicly available, but fishermen say there’s no fish there.” …”In the last decade, Chipriona has become the drainage point for the Ronera Sana Cruz, the biggest distillery in the country and one of the four owned by Cuba Ron S.A. It’s the end point of the sewage of the only place where the white and 3-year-old brands are distilled by Havana Club International (HCI). And the dumping ground for a company that earned $118.5 million in profits in 2016 from the sale of 4.2 million boxes each with nine liters of rum.”

Bacardi’s stewardship of the environment extends far beyond Jacksonville. Nicola Carruthers writing in The Spirits Business highlighted companies with initiatives to protect the environment and support sustainable development. According to Carruthers, “in 2018, Bacardi teamed up with environmental charity Lonely Whale to clamp down on single-use plastic and eradicate one billion plastic straws by 2020. The Future Doesn’t Suck campaign saw Bacardi remove “non-essential”, non-recyclable single-use plastic across its global supply chain.” Bacardi shifted some of its production in March 2020 to produce hand sanitizer in response to COVID-19, much of which is being given to police, nurses, non-profits and others battling COVID-19 on the frontlines.

Bacardi site in Jacksonville

Bacardi site in Jacksonville

Bacardi, founded in Cuba in 1862, has demonstrated over the years a concern for sustainable development and rootedness to Cuba with a multigenerational sense of belonging and protection of their properties, and surrounding communities. This family business 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. The rum maker’s actions in Jacksonville, Florida and globally with their campaign against single-use plastic demonstrates that they are good stewards, but it is also a reflection of private property rights. The late British philosopher Roger Scruton explained that ” for it is only private ownership that confers responsibility for the environment as opposed to the unqualified right to exploit it, a right whose effect we saw in the ruined landscapes and poisoned waterways of the former Soviet empire.” Unfortunately, these ruined landscapes and poisoned waterways continue to be found today in Castro’s Cuba. The video below is in Spanish, but the environmental destruction at the Chipriona inlet is understood in any language.

Ambassador Otto J. Reich, president of the Center for a Free Cuba, on January 31, 2020 in The Miami Herald called on the United States to undo a wrong that favored the Castro dictatorship and gutted the rights of a family business. “The Obama administration allowed Cuba to renew an expired trademark registration for the confiscated Havana Club rum. The Trump administration should reverse that action and demonstrate to unscrupulous foreign companies that there are grave risks to economic deals with a regime that has stolen billions of dollars in properties from Americans and Cubans, and thus stop dishonestly enriching the Cuban government.”

This is a moment to demonstrate contrasts, and in this case defending both private property rights and the responsible stewardship of the environment.

Cuban laws prohibit these practices, but distillery's untreated wastes end up in Cuban waters. Photo Jullio Batista.

Cuban laws prohibit these practices, but distillery’s untreated wastes end up in Cuban waters. Photo Jullio Batista.

The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire, August 24, 2020

Bacardi in Jacksonville Recognized for Environmental Excellence by Wildlife Habitat Council

Employee volunteers nurture 21-acre wildlife habitat on Bacardi campus, creating a home to bats, butterflies and birds

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Aug. 24 /CSRwire/ – At the Bacardi Bottling Corporation site in Jacksonville, FL, the local team is responsible for more than bottling the world’s most awarded rum. An all-volunteer employee team at Bacardi also proudly adds gardener and wildlife caretaker to their duties – all for the sake of environmental sustainability. For their efforts, Bacardi has achieved recertification by the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) Conservation Certification, this year as a Silver Certified award, signifying leadership among the more than 600 WHC Conservation Certification programs. This is the fourth WHC certification for the Bacardi site in Jacksonville and second Silver Certified award.

Since 2012, employee volunteers began converting the site’s grassy fields into native warm-season grasses and wildflowers and, today, 21 acres of native species embrace the campus. From blanket flower, black-eyed Susan, slender Indian grass, big bluestem, firebush, native milkweed and more. The latest addition is a pollinator garden that welcomes local birds and insects, such as Monarch butterflies, Zebra Longwing butterflies, European Honeybees, Bumblebees, mockingbirds, cardinals and more.

This year, Bacardi partnered with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and the Florida Bat Working Group to support Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Long-Term Bat Monitoring Program, dedicated to the education and conservation of bats. As part of the program, Bacardi is providing acoustic recordings that help identify bat species and their activities in the area. The Bacardi site is a perfect home for bats which are the inspiration for the iconic logo of the world’s most awarded rum. In 2015, employee volunteers, in partnership with Lubee Bat Conservancy, erected three large bat “caves” 20-feet off the ground to welcome native species including the Mexican free-tailed bat, Evening bat, Tricolored bat and Eastern red bat.

Bats aren’t the only species with custom-made homes on campus. Employee volunteers also set up eight songbird nest boxes targeting the native eastern bluebird. These nest boxes—which include names such as ‘Home Tweet Home,’ ‘House of Blues,’ and ‘The ReTweet’—were named by employees via a competition and last year welcomed 43 bluebird fledglings. The Bacardi team installed the nest boxes based on advice from a local bird expert and have since been visited by Florida Audubon Society members.

“Giving back to our communities and protecting our planet is part of our DNA as a family owned business,” says Darrin Mueller, Operations Center Director at Bacardi Bottling Corporation. “Bacardi employee volunteers take great pride in protecting and nurturing the wildlife here in Jacksonville and across the globe.”

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, volunteers are finding creative ways to protect the habitat while maintaining limited access to the site. Regular check-ins of the bird boxes and pollinator gardens ensure wildlife is flourishing. One volunteer temporarily relocated 19 caterpillars from the habitat to her home and is eagerly waiting for them to emerge as Monarch butterflies. Once the campus fully reopens, the team will be ready to hand plant Purple Passionflower and Sweet Fennel seeds, among others, to expand the habitat. In anticipation of more “guests”, the team will also install a wooden insect “hotel” and add a bird bath made from recycled glass.

“Bacardi Bottling Corporation in Florida is recognized as meeting the strict requirements of WHC Conservation Certification,” said Margaret O’Gorman, President, WHC. “Companies achieving WHC Conservation Certification, like Bacardi, are environmental leaders, voluntarily managing their lands to support sustainable ecosystems and the communities that surround them.”

Bacardi efforts to drive education and awareness spans across all sites and in 2019, Bacardi Corporation in Puerto Rico, the world’s largest premium rum distillery, received the first certification presented by WHC to a site on the island.

To learn more about Bacardi and its Good Spirited corporate responsibility programs, including environmental sustainability, visit: https://www.bacardilimited.com/corporate-responsibility/.

About Wildlife Habitat Council
Wildlife Habitat Council promotes and certifies habitat conservation and management on corporate lands through partnerships and education. WHC Conservation Certification programs take corporate sustainability goals and objectives and translate them into tangible and measurable on-the-ground actions. Through a focus on building collaboration for conservation with corporate employees, other conservation organizations, government agencies and community members, WHC programs focus on healthy ecosystems and connected communities. WHC-assisted wildlife habitat and conservation education programs are found in 48 states and 25 countries. www.wildlifehc.org

About Bacardi Bottling Corporation
Founded in 1972, Bacardi Bottling Corporation is a Center of Excellence for Bottling BACARDI® rum branded products enjoyed in the United States. The facility employs more than 200 people and is situated on a 92-acre campus.

Bacardi Bottling Corp. is a subsidiary of Bacardi Limited, headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda. Bacardi Limited refers to the Bacardi group of companies, including Bacardi International Limited. www.BacardiLimited.com

https://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/45630-Bacardi-in-Jacksonville-Recognized-for-Environmental-Excellence-by-Wildlife-Habitat-Council

Industry Week, February 16, 2016

Bacardi Seeks US Reversal on Cuba License to Sell Rum

Bacardi does not want Cuba to sell Havana Club rum in America.

Agence France-Presse

MIAMI –Bacardi said on February 16 it had demanded the United States reverse its recent decision allowing Cuba to sell Havana Club rum in America when the U.S. trade embargo ends.

Bacardi, stepping up its long legal battle over trademark protection of its Havana Club rum, said it had filed the request for the U-turn with the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Treasury’s arm that enforces economic and trade sanctions.

“OFAC’s decision to grant the license to the Cuban government reverses its prior decision in 2006 to deny that very same license and contradicts its own defense of that decision in various U.S. courts,” said Bacardi senior vice president and general counsel Eduardo Sanchez.

“We request that OFAC revoke License 837-1 retroactively to prevent Cuba — and its business partner Pernod Ricard — from their continued trafficking in illegally confiscated property,” Sanchez said.

The privately held, Bermuda-based Bacardi has been selling Havana Club in the U.S. since the mid-1990s.

French spirits and wine company Pernod Ricard sells its Havana Club rum in Cuba and a number of markets, notably Germany, France, Britain and Canada, but not the U.S.

The move is Bacardi’s latest salvo in the legal battle that dates back to the Cuban revolution of 1959, and it comes amid thawing U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations.

The United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations in July 2015. In January, Cuba received a license to sell Havana Club in the United States from the US Patent and Trademark Office once the US embargo against the communist island is lifted.

Bacardi, which had made rum in Cuba under its own name and that of Havana Club, left the island in 1960 after Fidel Castro came to power.

Bacardi insists it bought the rights to Havana Club from the Arechabala family, which made the rum until its distillery was seized by the Cuban government after the revolution.

In 1976, Cuba, which also continued to produce Havana Club, was able to register the trademark in the United States. But it lost the trademark in 2006 when it could not present the necessary license to the Treasury Department.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016

https://www.industryweek.com/the-economy/trade/article/21970545/bacardi-seeks-us-reversal-on-cuba-license-to-sell-rum

Periodismo de Barrio, August 28, 2017

The dead waters of Havana Club

In the last decade, the Chipriona cove has become the outlet for the largest rum distillery in Cuba.

Everybody knows. No one prevents it.

By Julio Batista Rodríguez

“The state protects the environment and natural resources of the country.” – Article 27 of the Cuban Constitution

Ronera Santa Cruz currently produces 60 million liters per year. More than half are Havana Club products. Photo: Julio Batista.

Ronera Santa Cruz currently produces 60 million liters per year. More than half are Havana Club products. Photo: Julio Batista.

The Chipriona inlet is a place where no one goes, where no one fishes, that doesn’t need a fence because no one wants to swim in the boiling filth that flows into its waters every day.

The waters of what used to be a beach are now soupy and have the sour smell of decomposition. No studies about the marine life in the inlet are publicly available, but fishermen say there’s no fish there.

The distillery that makes Havana Club rum pumps 1,288 cubic meters of waste liquids into the inlet every day, mostly vinasse. It has been doing that since the 1990s, although the problems became more acute starting in 2007.

At the commercial fishing dock in Santa Cruz del Norte, workers don’t want to talk. They have already complained a lot to the local office of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA), but their complaints don’t seem to have been useful. Or even recorded.

In the last decade, Chipriona has become the drainage point for the Ronera Sana Cruz, the biggest distillery in the country and one of the four owned by Cuba Ron S.A. It’s the end point of the sewage of the only place where the white and 3-year-old brands are distilled by Havana Club International (HCI). And the dumping ground for a company that earned $118.5 million in profits in 2016 from the sale of 4.2 million boxes each with nine liters of rum.

The Cuban government stood to earn 59 percent of those profits.

Maybe that’s why the fishermen in Santa Cruz believe their battle is lost.

Full article ]