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Bacardi may be up against long odds, but the company seems to thrive on adversity. When faced with an illiterate Cuban population in the 1860s, founder Facundo Bacardi devised a logo consisting of a bat with its wings spread, so that people could identify his brand. His liquor soon became known as the "rum of the bat," which, according to the Bacardi museum, was "believed by many to have magical powers."
Among those magical powers, it would seem, is a knack for avoiding tariffs. In 1931, confronted with the prospect of new rum taxes in Cuba, the company opened a bottling plant in Mexico. In 1937 the company opened a factory in Puerto Rico to avoid a five-dollar-per-gallon U.S. import tax. In 1957, with the Cuban revolution brewing, Bacardi removed its trademark from Cuba and registered it in the Bahamas. Three years later the Castro government confiscated Bacardi properties valued at $76 million. But with operations in several other countries, the company prospered. Its U.S. subsidiary, Bacardi Imports, moved from New York City to Miami in 1963. By 1983 the company had produced its 200-millionth case of rum.
In marketing the Cuba Libre line dance, Bacardi has been careful to emulate the simplicity that was the hallmark of the macarena, which required little more than the ability to hop and put your hands on the back of your head. To dance the Cuba Libre all you have to do is: Clap overhead-touch your shoulders-touch your thighs-clap twice-wiggle your butt-step to the right-step to the left-and do it all again, to a brisk salsa beat.
The Cuba Libre has one last decided advantage over the macarena: It comes equipped with a cocktail. If the dance steps prove too challenging, just have another Bacardi and Coke. The more you drink, the easier it gets.