CubaBrief: Bacardi environmental stewardship recognized while Castro regime’s rum maker harm’s Cuba’s, yet a travesty continues

Bacardi is in the news again. The rum maker founded in 1862 in Santiago de Cuba has a positive track record on environmental stewardship that has again been recognized. Bacardi USA was awarded the SmartWay® Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the fourth time.

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.”

Despite the Castro regime’s poor record on environmental stewardship and overall terrible record on human rights the United States in 2016 stripped Bacardi of its right to the Havana Club brand and turned it over to a company of the Castro dictatorship. According to Reuters, “in January, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decided to allow Cuban state firm Cubaexport to register the Havana Club name once again in the United States.” Bacardi “acquired the rights to the Havana Club trademark from its pre-revolutionary owner whose distillery was nationalized” by the communist regime.

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 this wrong that continues to favor the Castro dictatorship and gutted the rights of a Cuban 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 action by the United States in 2016 against Bacardi, and in favor of the Castro dictatorship was a deeply unpopular move for Cubans with a sense of history. Business Insider on October 28, 2020 broadcast a podcast on “Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba” that explored the company’s history back to Cuba’s colonial period under Spain in the 1870s.

Emilio Bacardi, son of one of the two founders of Bacardi, Don Emilio Bacardi, “was a field officer for Gen. Antonio Maceo in 1895 during the invasion of Cuba by independence forces, and reached the rank of colonel by the age of 22,” according to his obituary in The New York Times on October 16, 1972 when he died at the age of 95 in exile in Miami.

He was “the last surviving ranking officer of Cuba’s war of independence with Spain,” according to the paper of record. The Bacardi family throughout the struggle for independence, and during the years of the Republic defended democracy and Cuban national identity, and remain a historic example. They also resisted all of Cuba’s dictators: Machado, Batista and Castro.

Emilio Bacardi Lay (1877 - 1972)

Emilio Bacardi Lay (1877 – 1972)

This is in stark contrast to the history of the Castro family. Fidel Castro’s father, Angel Castro, enlisted in the Spanish army and arrived in Cuba to defend Spain’s colonial possession from forces battling for independence. He returned with the Spanish armed forces to the Iberian Peninsula following their defeat in 1898, but shortly after emigrated to Cuba and established himself there. This allegiance to Spain would continue through his sons Fidel and Raul Castro.

In 2016 TV3 produced a documentary “Franco and Fidel: A Strange Friendship” that explored this relationship between the two dictators and is available online.

The documentary revealed how pro-Castro Cuban exiles were able to celebrate Fidel Castro’s triumph in 1959 with a mass protest in Retiro Park in Spain. This was at a time when Spaniards could not do that. Latin American Herald Tribune reported on this and more regarding the TV3 production.

Also revealing are accounts by Castro revolutionaries who said that during their struggle against dictator Fulgencio Batista their lives were saved thanks to the help of the Spanish Embassy, as well as images of Ernesto “Che” Guevara walking in Madrid and attending a bullfight with members of Franco’s secret police.

Following the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when the US pushed for tight economic sanctions on the Castro regime, the rest of Latin America, France and the United Kingdom all went along with Washington, but Franco’s Spain continued trading with Havana.

On Franco’s death in 1975, Fidel Castro decreed three days of mourning in Cuba, although he made sure that it went unnoticed by the press, it was an official decree signed by Cuban president Oswaldo Dorticós. This relationship with the Spanish dictator should not be a surprise when one considers that the Castro regime had a close working relationship with former high ranking Nazis.

This is why the United States siding with the Castro dictatorship in an issue of private property rights against Bacardi is so deeply offensive, and needs to be remedied. Cuban Americans and Cubans on the island would remember this gesture.

Environmental Protection Agency, November 5, 2020

U.S. EPA Recognizes Bacardi USA Inc. in Coral Gables, Florida for Environmental Performance

11/05/2020

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – (November 5, 2020) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is honoring 75 truck carriers, logistics providers and freight shippers as industry leaders in supply chain environmental performance and energy efficiency with its annual SmartWay Excellence Awards. This year’s awardees, announced at a virtual award ceremony hosted by the EPA, represent the top performing SmartWay Partners that move more goods more miles with lower emissions and less energy. The 2020 SmartWay Excellence awardees demonstrate how businesses in this crucial economic sector continue to lead through challenging times, exhibiting superior freight performance by saving fuel, shrinking their emissions footprints, and contributing to healthier air in the communities they serve.

With this year’s SmartWay awards, EPA is recognizing 75 of our 3,700 plus SmartWay partners for outstanding environmental leadership in goods movement, said EPA Office of Air and Radiation Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Anne Austin. These companies are true leaders, investing in innovative technologies and business practices that save fuel, cut costs, and protect the environment.”

“Congratulations to Bacardi USA Inc. for earning this year’s SmartWay Excellence Award for their leadership in moving more goods with less fuel,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Their investments in innovative technologies and business practices contribute to healthier air, save fuel and money, and protect our planet from greenhouse gases.”

This year’s awardee list is a diverse group of large and small companies from across North America that met or surpassed a high bar for recognition. Many are receiving the SmartWay Excellence award for the first time, while others have received the award at least five times, and three awardees earned the recognition in multiple categories. 

Since 2004, SmartWay Partners have avoided emitting more than 134 million tons of air pollution, while saving 280 million barrels of oil and $37.5 billion in fuel costs – equivalent to eliminating annual energy use in over 18 million homes. SmartWay partners also help protect clean and healthy air by significantly reducing pollution that contributes to smog, including fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.

For more information about SmartWay Excellence Awards, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/smartway/smartway-excellence-awardees

For more information about SmartWay, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/smartway

Background

EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership is a market-driven initiative that empowers businesses to move goods in the cleanest, most energy-efficient way possible to protect public health and reduce emissions. Demonstrating a commitment to environmental responsibility and freight efficiency through SmartWay provides for a more sustainable and competitive business environment.

https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/us-epa-recognizes-bacardi-usa-inc-coral-gables-florida-environmental-performance

Business Insider, October 28, 2020

57. Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba

Charlie Herman, Julia Press, and Sarah Wyman

Oct 28, 2020, 12:17 PM

Since its founding nearly 160 years ago in Cuba, one family has run Bacardi. They fought for Cuba’s freedom, fostered an artistic community in the country, and rebuilt their business after fleeing the country because of Fidel Castro. Even today, they continue the struggle for Cuban identity from abroad. It’s the history of Cuba and what it means to be Cuban, distilled into a glass of Bacardi rum.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts  |  Stitcher  |  Spotify  | and more.

Reported and produced by Charlie Herman, with Julia Press and Sarah Wyman.

Read more:

Transcript

Note: This transcript may contain errors.

CHARLIE HERMAN: When Fidel Castro, sometimes called Cuba’s “Maximum Leader” was alive … 

[CASTRO SPEECH]

CH: Well, to put it mildly, he had a lot of enemies … especially in the Cuban exile community in Miami, Florida.

After Castro rose to power in 1959, tens of thousands of Cubans fled their homes for the United States. One of them was Jose, or Pepin, Bosch. He was one of Castro’s fiercest opponents. He also ran Bacardi, you know, the company that makes rum.

TOM GJELTEN: There’s no Bacardi executive or family member who feels more personally betrayed by Fidel Castro than Pepin Bosch himself.

Rest of Transcript]

https://www.businessinsider.com/brought-to-you-by-podcast-btyb-bacardi-fight-for-cuba

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 ]

https://www.cubacenter.org/articles-and-events/2020/4/27/the-dead-waters-of-havana-club

The New York Times, October 16, 1972

Emilio Bacardi of Rum Firm; In Cuba’s War With Spain

Oct. 16, 1972

MIAMI, Oct. 15 (AP)—Emilio Bacardi, son of the founder of the Bacardi rum industry and the last surviving ranking officer of Cuba’s war of independence with Spain, died yesterday at his home here. He was 95 years old.

Mr. Bacardi was born in Santiago de Cuba, where the famous rum brand was established by Don Facundo Bacardi and Don Emilio Bacardi in 1862. One of five children, he served as European sales vice president for the company when its rum was introduced on the Continent in the early 1900’s.

In 1895, he was a field officer for Gen. Antonio Maceo during the invasion of Cuba by independence forces. He reached the rank of colonel by the age of 22.

Mr. Bacardi fled Cuba with his family in 1961 after the Castro Government came in. Bacardi Imports, Inc., established its headquarters here in 1963.

Survivors include his widow, Zoila Luyando de Bacardi, and four sisters.

https://www.nytimes.com/1972/10/16/archives/emilio-bacardi-of-rum-firm-in-cubas-war-with-spain.html