Book Review: Bacardi: The Hidden War

Barcadi: The Hidden War

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This book explores the murky world of the Bacardi Empire. Bacardi has had dealings with the CIA and the extreme right-wing National Cuban-American Foundation (CANF) as well as links with both political and violent attempts to overthrow the Cuban government. This began almost from the Revolution in January 1959 and has continued to the present day. As the prologue puts it, the book: “raises fundamental issues about the relationship between multinational corporations and imperialist politics, about the instrumental use by the state of private corporations to serve state-directed terrorism.”

Bacardi has sought to use US laws to put a stranglehold on Cuban trade. This includes sponsoring the Helms-Burton Act that tightens the 40-year blockade. The author comments that

“the text is so severe and over-arching that doubtless not even the laws and treaties imposed on African colonies by the European powers have contained such a degree of arrogance and lack of respect for a sovereign nation.”

Bacardi lawyers were also heavily involved in writing the new trade laws that mean Cuban brands are no longer recognized in the US. Havana Club rum’s French partner Pernod-Ricard (the major competitor to Bacardi) has convinced the European Union that such moves are an infringement of fair-trading laws.

Bacardi and others are aiming not just to remove Castro from power but establish Cuba as a colony of the United States with favoured front-men running the show.

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

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