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Anejo Blanco


Añejo Clásico

Island Body

A Poem by Richard Blanco

  • Forced to leave from home, but home
  • never leaves us. Wherever exile
  • takes us, we remain this body made
  • from the red earth of our island -
  • our ribs taken from its montes -
  • its breeze our breaths. We stand
  • with its palmeras. Our eyes hold
  • its blue-green sea. Waterfalls
  • echo in our ears. On our wrists,
  • jasmine. Our palms open, close.
  • Don’t tell us we’re not Cuban.
  • We thrive wherever we remain true
  • to our lucha - hustle of our feet
  • walking to work as we must,
  • oily hands fixing broken beauty
  • as we must, soiled hands growing
  • what we must, or cutting what
  • must be cut. Our pockets filled
  • with the island’s sands and pulse
  • of its waves, with the gossamer
  • dew and dust of its sunrises
  • with the song of its sinsontes
  • and its son nested in our souls.
  • Don’t tell us we’re not Cuban.
  • Wherever the world spins us,
  • home remains the island that
  • remains in us. Its sun still sets
  • in our eyes. We’re still caught
  • in its net of stars, still listen to
  • its moon above its dirt roads.
  • We’re its rivers, its coast’s lace,
  • its valleys’ windsong, its vast
  • seas of sugarcane fields. We are
  • our island’s sweetness, still are
  • the amber rum born from it.
  • Don’t tell me I’m not Cuban.
  • Or him. Or her. Or them.
  • Or any of us.

Exile, Perseverance and Resurgence

The Arechabala Family started their rum-making business in 1878 in Cuba and first registered the original HAVANA CLUB trademark in 1934. It wasn’t long before HAVANA CLUB Rum became a beloved and iconic Cuban brand – becoming a favorite amongst locals as well as American and European tourists.

Then everything changed. On January 1st, 1960, at gunpoint, the Cuban regime unrightfully seized the company’s assets without compensation.

The Arechabala family lost everything and was forced to flee the homeland they loved, with a scant few of their remaining possessions – the precious HAVANA CLUB recipe being one of them. Meanwhile, the Cuban government started to sell their stolen version of HAVANA CLUB, and continues to do so to this day.

It wasn’t until 1995 – after decades of rebuilding, the Arechabala Family finally joined forces with another Cuban family in exile: Bacardi. The latter acquired the HAVANA CLUB brand and began producing rum based on the original HAVANA CLUB recipe and selling it in the one country that didn’t recognize the Cuban government’s 1960 illegal expropriation, the United States.

The HAVANA CLUB brand is an example of how, despite the circumstances, Cubans in exile have never accepted their fate. HAVANA CLUB Rum holds onto its rich Cuban culture.