On January 1st, our dear Congress passed legislation avoiding the "fiscal cliff". But one "add-on" to the bill gives a huge gift to two mega-distilling conglomerates - Bacardi and Diageo - in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The effects of this are immediate and threaten the continued existence and availbility of Caribbean rum! Here's how:
1. The USVI and Puerto Rico receive nearly a billion dollars in subsidies, much of which is simply passed along to the mega-distillers.
2. The US also gave Diageo $2.7 Billion - yes billions - to move and build a huge distillery in the USVI
3. The new fiscal cliff law also imposes a huge penalty - $13.50 per gallon - for all other Caribbean rum.
Friends, this is a huge crisis. CARICOM - which represents the rest of the Caribbean countries and distillers - are furious, as this self-dealing move threatens their continued existence as rum producers, and a devastating blow to their economies, which are largely rum based.
Especially affected are the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana who are highly dependent on the now protected US Market. They face failure and going out of business. Accordingly, the CARIFORUM is now lawyering up and plan to challenge this insult, dirty dealling and what they cite as a direct and clear violation of the WTO regulations on free trade.
They are right. All rum lovers who hope to continue to enjoy a wide diversity of rum from all over the Caribbean must band together and protest this horrible giveaway to the already hugely profitable mega-companies, and who seem to operating from nothing beyond greed and profit, even if it destroys their smaller but honest competition.
There is a a petition against these unfair subsidies and taxes:
Personally, I am appalled at what has happened, especially in the dark of night and slipped into the fiscal cliff bill. To favor a very few - two politically powerful conglomerates - to seriously harm the many serves no one. I sincerely hope this action can be reversed as the idea that we may lose access to our favorite Caribbean rums is simply unthinkable.