Monday, August 14, 2006

A taste of

As part of my on going exploration of where my boycotting policy is going (here) I've been talking to Derek Wall, National Exec member of the Green Party and author of Beyond Babylon, a discussion of anti-capitalist economics, about the boycott of Bacardi.

Why are you for a boycott of Bacardi?

Because they are anti-Cuba and pro-the Miami Mafia, although they market themselves as if they were Che's drink of choice. On a planet run, for and by corporations, they sadly stand out for their huge and negative influence. Unlike most other companies nationalised in the 1950s they never reached a mutually satisfactory agreement with the Cuban government and have been at war with them ever since. In the 1960s, their head of Bacardi, Jose Pepin Bosch, bought a plane to bomb Cuba's oil refineries. The company paided for a CIA plot to try to kill Castro in 1964.

In 1981 Bacardi helped create the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) which has worked to get rid of Castro and was a conduit of funds from the US to the contras who attacked Sandanista Nicaragua.

Their rum is pretty crap and they like many big alcohol corps use their power to monopolise the market.

The boycott campaign notes, 'A key figure in the Bacardi-CIA-CANF network for many years has been Otto Reich, now the first choice of the current Bush administration as policy supreme for Latin America. Florida governor Jed Bush, brother of President George W Bush, has long had close ties with the network as well. The truth about Bacardi has been further exposed in a new book by radical Colombian journalist Hernando Calvo, 'Bacardi - the hidden war. The book shows that the multinationals are not just entities with commercial interests, but political ones as well. Bacardi may not be a US firm, but it controls US legislators, creates US legislation to defend its interests and promotes US terrorist activities.'

Ian Williams's Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776, a great book on the subject also observers: "...rum aficionados almost universally deplore the company for the effect it has had on rum. Gresham's law observes that bad money drives out good; Bacardi has achieved this with rum. Its bland ubiquity has been driving the distinctive rums of the world from the mass consumer market. It is the equivalent of American cheddar driving out the 300 cheeses of France. Its monopoly power has been used to keep much better, genuinely local Caribbean brands from reaching takeoff. The islands cannot compete with subsidized and tariff protected high fructose corn syrup and Floridian sugar grown by former Cuban barons, so their one chance to market a value-added branded commodity is frustrated by the transglobal black bat.

"Republicans used to inveigh against the Democrats as the party of "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion," but now Bacardi has the GOP in its pocket, it symbolizes the complete turnaround of political positions. "

How successful do you think this boycott been - and what does it hope to achieve?

Well they are big but shrinking and the boycott is an important part of the campaign to stop the US invading Cuba.

What products would I have to boycott if I go for Bacardi?

Havana Club is the Cuban alternative its market share is fast growing and it tastes better, so pretty easy boycott to support, they have only a ninth of the market share of Barcardi but are 44 on the list of top 100 brands of Rum or 'Ron' as Cubans call it.

Here are some tips to help you support the boycott, Read Bacardi, the Hidden War by Hernando Calvo Ospina, translated by Stephen Wilkinson and Alasdair Holden and published by Pluto Press, can be ordered at

Contact for more information, Rock around the Blockade c/o BCM Box 5909 London WC1N 3XX phone: 020 7837 1688 fax: 020 7837 1743 email:

Go vist Hector's Bar in Brighton, he is a Cuban and will mix you a mean mojito without Bacardi.. 36 Preston Street, Brighton (between Western Road and the sea front)

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