Barcardí pushing for Cuba Libre with U.S. help

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The U.S. Agency for International Development has awarded the Barcardí Family Foundation $1,553,494 for democracy-promotion work in Cuba.
Contract records do not give details about the foundation’s plans. The non-profit organization’s “flagship program” for 2017 and 2018 is Cuba Decide, a citizen initiative aimed at organizing “a vote that changes the oppressive communist party-ruled system into a democratic, multiparty one.”
The foundation’s website states:

The campaign is undertaking, at great personal risk to participants, to support the Cuban citizenry in their demand for the right to choose their government.

The website also lists other groups and causes Bacardí has supported “over the past few years as well as new and timely projects that celebrate Cuban culture in all its modern diversity – with special emphasis on freedom of expression.”
These include:

  • The project Redesigning Changes, consistent with the Lech Walesa Institute’s program, Solidarity with Cuba, intends to provide an exclusive opportunity for young Cuban artists who are an active element of the emerging civil society in Cuba to learn about the Polish road to freedom and the involvement of Polish designers and artists in changes of the political system since the early 1980s.
  • 14Ymedio is the daily digital newspaper founded by human rights activist and Cuban Hero, Yoani Sanchez. They are established in the USA as a non-profit which can receive donations from US individuals and entities. We are proud to have been among the original supporters of this groundbreaking effort and we remain ardent supporters of the work of Yoani and her team. Anyone who cares about Cuba or is interested in honest reporting from the Island should have this website marked as a favorite.
Yoani Sánchez
  • The International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) s a non-profit organization, independent of all political parties, governments or religious groups. It acts according to the philosophy that the realization of human rights and the improvement of social conditions cannot be pursued by use of force. ISHR was founded in order to support individuals who share this principle and, consequently, claim their rights in a non-violent manner. The Bacardi Family Foundation has been in partnership for some time sponsoring trips as well as independent productions. These productions are alongside artistic and cultural Cuban production house – better known as MATRAKA.
  • EchoCuba is a faith based NGO advocating for religious freedom in Cuba. Since 1995, EchoCuba has focused on Mission Trips, Leadership Development, Children/Youth Ministry and Elderly Ministry. This is part of the design to equip and strengthen those who crave a independent spiritual life. Bacardi Family Foundation is proud of their accomplishments as well as the opportunity to partner and build community with all those who wish to help in Keeping the Church alive, vibrant, passionate and growing in Cuba.
  • Hard Rock Havana tells the story of Cuba’s most popular heavy metal band, Zeus. For decades, heavy metal was banned inside the communist country and rebellious rockers were thrown into jail. Years later, the music is finally permitted but heavily regulated by the government’s newly-formed “Agency of Rock.” The documentary feature film is a rare glimpse into a nation struggling to join a post-communist world. And the mosh-pitting, head-banging, heavy metal scene offers a fascinating avenue to explore freedom, self-expression and defiance against forces of conformity and control. Bacardi Family Foundation is fortunate to have come across a film that speaks to its socially activist history and identity.
  • Give2Cuba is a new fund hosted by the Miami Foundation. We are establishing our own Bacardi Family Foundation account in the fund, which for the first time will allow our US donors to give money that will be directed by our board and used to directly support activities in Cuba. The Give2Cuba fund is established as a Donor Advised Fund at the Miami Foundation in partnership with the Seattle International Foundation. It is a giving Vehicle that pools resources to make a bigger collective impact and which will seed the eventual establishment of a Cuba Community Foundation. We now have an effective and low cost way to join the hundreds of people and organizations working to build a civil society in Cuba.

USAID awarded the Bacardí foundation the contract on Sept. 11, 2018. The project’s expected end date is Sept. 30, 2020.

The Bacardí family founded the rum company in 1862. According to the Bacardí Limited website:

In the beautiful port city of Santiago de Cuba, a small family enterprise purchases a distillery and revolutionizes rum-making on February 4, 1862.
The first samples of a smooth, light-bodied spirit – what the world now knows as BACARDÍ premium rum – originated from a humble tin-roof distillery with bats in the rafters.
Working with close family members, founder Don Facundo Bacardí Massó pioneered key rum-making techniques, including the isolation of a single strain of yeast from nearby sugarcane fields. This closely guarded ingredient delivers the consistent quality and taste that makes BACARDÍ rums the world’s favorite and is still used today.
It was Don Facundo’s wife, Amalia, who suggested using a bat for the company logo. It was an insightful choice, because according to Cuban and Spanish lore, bats symbolize good health, good fortune and family unity. Soon this revolutionary, smooth-bodied rum became known as “the rum of the bat.”
In October 1960, revolutionary government forces illegally confiscated all Company assets in Cuba – a devastating heartache for a business just shy of its 100th anniversary.

Barcardí rival Havana Club

Today Bacardí touts itself as “the world’s largest privately held spirits company.”
The non-profit foundation says it “has no affiliation with Bacardi Limited other than the fact that Bacardi Limited is a family owned company and that this is a foundation comprised of members of that family.”

Bacardí bat atop Bacardí building in Havana.

The foundation website states:

The Bacardi Family Foundation does not have the support of the company to speak or act for the company. The Bacardi Family Foundation is a group of family members acting together to carry out our own philanthropic mission. The goal of the Foundation is to affect social good in long lasting ways. We draw our inspiration from the example of our ancestors in Cuba, who served their society in myriad ways, including as public servants, philanthropists, artists, educators, industrialists, and employers.

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