Born in 1844, Emilio Bacardi Moreau was a writer and a poet, fought for Cuba’s independence from Spain, and was a driving force in promoting Cuban culture.
Emilio Bacardí Moreau, more than just a prominent name
August 28th marked the 101st anniversary of the death of Emilio Bacardí Moreau, a Cuban patriot, politician, intellectual, and cultural promoter. Bacardí Moreau, born in Santiago de Cuba on June 5, 1844, was the son of Facundo Bacardí y Massó, the Catalan founder of the renowned rum distillery that bears his name.
He began his primary studies in Barcelona, where he lived with his family at a young age. He quickly stood out for his literary talent, and at the age of 23, the Liceo de Puerto Príncipe, now the city of Camagüey, awarded him a prize for a socially significant essay titled “The Convenience of Reserving Certain Jobs for Women.”
After the outbreak of the Ten Years’ War, he became involved in the independence movement, and in 1876, he was imprisoned in Chafarinas, and later deported in 1879. After the war ended, he returned to the island but was deported once again for his involvement in preparations for the Little War.
During the simultaneous uprisings that marked the beginning of the 1895 war, Emilio Bacardí Moreau was once again imprisoned and deported to Ceuta, Spain. After the war of independence, he returned to Santiago de Cuba, where he served as mayor, a position he was elected to after the proclamation of the Republic. As mayor, he made significant contributions to culture, including the establishment of the museum that bears his name, which houses belongings of illustrious independence patriots and objects from various ancient Egyptian dynasties. In addition to this museum, Bacardí established the municipal library, one of the first in Cuba, the Academy of Fine Arts, and carried out several socially significant projects.
Retiring from politics, Bacardí devoted himself to literary creation. Among his most notable works are the Chronicles of Santiago de Cuba, stories abou his travels to Egypt and Palestine, and the novels Vía Crucis and Doña Giomar.
His name is also directly associated with the Bacardí rum distillery, a widely sold brand worldwide, as it was founded by his father in Santiago de Cuba in 1862.
By 1888, Bacardí was already considered the favorite rum of the famous. In 1910, Bacardí became the first multinational company in Cuba, with operations in Barcelona, Spain—where the rum was bottled for the first time outside of Cuba—and New York, to meet the growing demand for the beverage in the United States.
In the 1920s, Prohibition took effect in the United States, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol, leading to the closure of the Bacardí bottling plant in New York.
All of Bacardí’s operations and assets in Cuba were illegally confiscated without compensation by the Cuban government in October 1960, just two years before the company’s centenary.