Bacardi's advertising campaign relies largely on its Cuban origins, suggesting that the company supports Cuba. This is however entirely untrue, as Bacardi broke all links with the island following the Cuban Revolution of 1959, when popular socialist leaders Che Guevara and Fidel Castro overthrew Batista's dictatorship.

Since then, Bacardi has backed attempts to undermine the revolution, even funding the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), responsible for acts of terrorism against Cuba. The company's lawyers also helped write the Helms-Burton Act, spreading the US embargo on Cuba to third countries.

The blockade restrains sale of food, medical supplies and other essential goods to Cuba, as well as threatening countries if they trade with Cuba. The island has lost approximately $40 billion due to lost production and trade. The blockade violates international trade laws and is heavily condemned each year by the United Nations.

According to the American Association for World Health (AAWH), by denying access to supplies, the embargo has contributed to malnutrition and the lack of medical equipment has led to unecessary suffering and deaths. Examples include that of a heart attack patient who died because the US government refused a licence for an implantable defibrillator, of Cuban children suffering from leukaemia denied access to new life-prolonging drugs and of children undergoing chemotherapy who, because a nausea-preventing drug was not available, were vomiting on average 28 times a day. Even medical aid to Cuba collected by the "Pastors of Peace", a group of U.S. clergymen and women, is now under confiscation by the U.S. customs office.

Bacardi has thus become the main sponsor of anti-Cuban action, and carries a large amount of responsibility for the Cuban population's suffering.

In addition this, Bacardi has now resorted to stealing the Havana Club label from French company Pernod Ricard. The blockade means that Cuban rum cannot be sold in the USA, but in 1974 Cubaexport registered the Havana Club label there to avoid its use by other companies. The rights to the trademark were then bought by Pernod Ricard when the company set up a joint venture with Havana Club Holdings in 1994 - despite threatening letters from Bacardi.

Bacardi then started illegally marketing its own Havana Club, subtly renamed Havana Club International in 1996. Pernod Ricard sued but Bacardi won. The verdict was based on the Section 211 of the Budget Act passed by the US Congress, which suspends the legal protection on trademarks used by enterprises nationalized after the Revolution. Bacardi claims that Havana Club uses former Bacardi assets nationalised by Cuba in 1960. Pernod Ricard is taking the case to the World Trade Organisation. As Castro pointed out, ‘I hope no one will now complain if we start marketing a Cuban Coca-Cola.’

The Rock around the Blockade association has therefore launched a Boycott Bacardi campaign to expose the truth and discourage consumers from buying Bacardi products. Its goal is to threaten the company'’s profits and to force them to reconsider their actions.

So instead of Bacardi, buy Havana Club, a genuine Cuban rum whose sales bring much-needed hard currency into the Cuban economy. The challenge from Havana Club worldwide has left Bacardi sales down an estimated $25 million since 1990. Let's keep it up!

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