Review

Hernando Calvo Ospino Bacardi: The Hidden War (Pluto Press, 2002) £10.99

Calvo's excellently researched and absorbing book tells the almost half-century long history of the Bacardi Rum corporation's attempts to destabilise the Cuban economy and political system, using everything from assassination attempts to good old anti-competitive restrictive practices to further its monopolistic ends. In the meantime, Bacardi's owners have conspired with successive United States governments, using whatever means necessary to win the island back for capitalism. Calvo shows just how far the US is prepared to go to drag Cuba's people back into its backyard.

We all know that administrations from Eisenhower to Bush Jr have been prepared to use whatever came to hand - methods open and covert, legal and illegal, subtle and crude - up to and including terrorism to eliminate the threat of Cuba's example. What Calvo's book does is give us the detail: of how bacardi goes about prosecuting its absurd attempt to prevent Cuba's publicly-owned Havana Club brand from using its own name; of how it tries, paradoxically, to cash in on Cuba's growing popularity through advertising campaigns which give the impression that its much-hyped but inferior product is made on the island; of the assassination plots and the Mafia involvement; of the financing of an international network of anti-Castro terrorists; of the company's involvement with other US terrorist campaigns, notably in Nicaragua in the 1980s. And of Bacardi's lobbying for greater restrictions on trade with Cuba.

Bacardi's hostility to the Cuban government began with the revolution's nationalisation of the firm in 1959. It continues with the manipulation of the US political process, where the votes of  Florida's exiled Cuban community carry great weight in a state which, run by Bush clan member Governor Jeb Bush, was capable of swinging elections even in the days when all of its citizens could vote and have their votes counted. Bacardi's blood-stained hands reach into the hart of the Bush Junta in the shape of Otto Reich, whose lobbying firm, the Brock Group, works for them.

This book is important. Read it, think about the people who talk about a war on terror whilst aiding and abetting terrorists, and stop drinking those sickly Bacardi Breezers.

Bacardi: The Hidden War can be bought direct from www.plutobooks.com