Blog: Olly WehringA week in Cuba? My news editor's Havana laugh

Olly Wehring | 25 February 2008

As press trips go, a week in Cuba with Havana Club doesn't sound too shabby. Being in Cuba the week that Fidel Castro finally calls time on his tenure, then, must surely be like gold dust.

Here, then, we allow news editor Jessica Harvey to tell us of her time on the island last week, with the challenge in place that she doesn't make us all sick to our stomachs with envy.

I think it's probably fair to say that I've had an eventful week here in Cuba - one filled with the historic event of Fidel Castro’s timely resignation, the International Cocktail Grand Prix and the launch of Havana Club's Cuban artist-inspired campaign Havana-Cultura.

On the streets of Cuba, Castro’s stepping down from duty seems like a far cry from the impact the news is having upon the rest of the world. In Cuba, people go about their business, most seemingly unaware that the man who has been their leader for over half a century will be taking his leave of them. The rest of the planet, meanwhile, has been busy speculating on what Castro’s departure could mean in terms of the trade embargo that has been in place with the US shortly after the revolution in 1959.

The embargo has previously marginalised Havana Club International in many ways. One, by simply excluding the company from entering what is a pretty sizable rum market, but also by preventing Pernod Ricard’s joint venture from stopping its litigious rival Bacardi from using the Havana Club name for its own rum just across the Straits of Florida.

This situation, which is one that will no doubt see both companies keeping a close eye upon Castro’s successor’s relationship with the soon-to-be-elected new US President, could see future stateside success for both brands.

All of this, and classic cocktail-making and cocktail flair wizardry, while Cuban music and performance went on in the background, at a comfortable 82 degrees in the shade. There were white sandy beaches, there were Mojitos and Daiquiris sipped, bikinis donned. Hemingway’s place was eyeballed following a trip on the sugar cane train, a nose around a cigar-making factory and a tour of a rum distillery.

Yes, I’d say it’s been an eventful week.


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