“THIS DAY IN CUBAN HISTORY…- Emilio Bacardí y Moreau (1844-1922)”

A publication of the Cuban Studies Institute

Emilio Bacardí y Moreau (1844-1922).  Entrepreneur, writer and journalist, born in Santiago on June 5.  At only 24 he was honored by the Liceo of Puerto Principe for hisConveniencia de reservar a la mujer ciertos trabajos. He was imprisoned in 1876 for revolutionary activities and deported in 1879. At Ceuta in 1895 during the Independence War, 1895-1898, he was jailed for sending arms to the insurgents. 

His political life led him to be elected alcalde of Santiago de Cuba in 1901, and then senator.  By placing his fortune at the disposition of the community, he encouraged the embellishment or his native city and founded a museum bearing his name, as well as an adjacent library and the Municipal Academy of Fine Art. 

His publications include Via CrucisDoña GuiomarLa condesa de Merlín, andCrónicas de Santiago de Cuba1516 a 1902, and he contributed to the Revista bimestre cubana and El Fígaro, and other periodicals.  He belonged to the Academia de la Historia de Cuba and the Academia Nacional de Artes y Letras.  His father, Facundo Bacardi Massó, was the founder of the word-famous Bacardí y Compañía. Upon his retirement in 1877, Emilio was made president.

Emilio’s accomplishments as president of Bacardí and Company were no less impressive.  Under his leadership, the company became Cuba’s first multi-national corporation when it expanded into Spain in 1910.  In 1922, he built a new distillery in Santiago de Cuba to answer the increased demand for Bacardí rum, due in part to American tourists coming in droves to Cuba to escape Prohibition.  Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was that he navigated the company through uncertain political times with integrity and enduring patriotism.  He is sill considered by many “hijo predilecto de Santiago de Cuba,” or the beloved son of Santiago de Cuba.

 Juan J. Remos called his “the rare case of a capitalist who not only shared his fortune with his people, but who loved culture above business.”

*Jaime Suchlicki is Director of the Cuban Studies Institute, CSI, a non-profit research group in Coral Gables, FL. He is the author of Cuba: From Columbus to Castro & Beyond, now in its 5th edition; Mexico: From Montezuma to the Rise of the PAN, 2nd edition, and of the recently published Breve Historia de Cuba