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Bacardi gives cautious welcome to US-Cuba thaw

Beverage giant Bacardi has given a cautious welcome to the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba — but played a straight bat to the question of whether it would consider moving its headquarters from Bermuda to the Caribbean island.

The Bacardi family that owns the company fled Cuba in 1959 in the wake of Fidel Castro's revolution, after its rum distilleries and assets were seized by the new government.

It reorganised and today it has a Bermuda holding company, with its global headquarters in an iconic building on Pitts Bay Road, where it employs some 65 people.

The US initially recognised Mr Castro's revolutionary government, but broke off diplomatic relations in 1961. On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama signalled a change of direction, which was greeted with jubilation in Cuba.

But Bacardi greeted the development with caution.

In response to questions from The Royal Gazette, Bacardi said yesterday it was “proud of its Cuban roots”.

“We have the utmost respect and sympathy for the Cuban people with whom we share a common heritage,” Bacardi added.

“Regarding the diplomatic actions yesterday, we will need to wait and see what the impacts are. We hope for meaningful improvements in the lives of the Cuban people and will follow any changes with great interest.

“In the meantime, we continue to support the restoration of fundamental human rights in Cuba.”

It did not directly address the question of whether the US move could at some point result in a move of its headquarters back to Cuba.

However, in an interview with Cigar Aficionado published five months ago, Bacardi chairman Facundo Bacardi made the company's feelings about Cuba very clear.

Asked by the publication what would happen if the US trade embargo on Cuba were dropped, Mr Bacardi said: “The vision of the family and the company is to come full circle. We will be back in Cuba, and we will invest beyond what it will take just to build the brand.

“We see Cuba as our home. I would say about half our family members were born in Cuba. We left before the revolution, and we have every intention of going back, rebuilding our business and helping the Cuban people.”

Bacardi: Global beverage giant has Cuban roots

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Published December 19, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm)

Bacardi gives cautious welcome to US-Cuba thaw

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