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Bacardi Rum Company Tried
Overthrow Cuban Government For 40 years
Rum goings on behind Bacardi's party image
By Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
August 16, 2002
The Bacardi rum company has been engaged for more than 40 years in clandestine attempts to overthrow the Cuban Government by both violent and other means, according to a new book.
The company is accused of bankrolling extreme right-wing groups and mainstream politicians in the United States an effort to remove Fidel Castro and re-establish its profitable empire on the island.
Bacardi is the world's largest rum company, with annual sales of more than 240 million bottles in 170 countries, and a history that dates to 1862. But behind its image of a fun drink for partygoers is an empire that has devoted millions of dollars towards removing Dr. Castro and the Cuban Government, which nationalised its properties in 1959, the Colombian journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina says in his new book, Bacardi, the Hidden War.
Other countries and private firms have since reached settlements with the Cuban Government over the nationalisation, but the US and Bacardi never have.
The book alleges that in the 1960s the then head of Bacardi, the late Jose Pepin Bosch, planned to bomb Cuba's oil refineries, hoping to create a blackout in the country and thus stimulate "a state of national subversion." His plan, and a picture of the bomber aircraft he intended to use, was exposed in The New York Times and the enterprise abandoned.
A more elaborate plot to kill Dr. Castro was suggested in 1964, according to documents not released by the National Security Council until 1998. Details of the CIA plot "to assassinate Castro, which would involve US elements of the Mafia and which would be financed by Pepin Bosch" are contained in documents sent by a CIA agent, Gordon Chase, to his superiors. According to the documents, Pepin Bosch contributed $US100,000 of the $US150,000 requested by those linked to the Mafia who had offered to kill Dr. Castro, his brother, Raul, and Che Guevara.
Directors and leading shareholders in Bacardi were instrumental in the formation in 1981 of the Cuban American National Foundation, which was to become one of the main bodies co-ordinating efforts to overthrow Dr. Castro.
More recently, senior Bacardi figures have been instrumental in the support for the 1996 Helms-Burton legislation that outlined what Cuba must do to be regarded as a democracy by the US and attain diplomatic recognition. The law made it an offense for foreigners to invest in properties that were nationalised by Dr. Castro and denied visas to the US to the directors of any firms that did so. In congressional circles the legislation was referred to as the Bacardi bill. Leading Bacardi figures mounted fundraisers for Senator Jesse Helms, one of the architects of the legislation.
The book is published as the Bush Administration has listed Cuba as one of seven state sponsors of terrorism. A Bacardi spokeswoman said: "No-one at Bacardi believes this book is worth commenting on."
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The Journal of History - Fall 2002 Copyright © 2002 by News Source, Inc.