Monday, May 21, 2007

Fake Cuban Cigars (Part 8)

Which brings me to the allegory of these "fake" products in the US. You see, because the US has codified our Cuban enemies into law (e.g., Helms-Burton), many people now absolve their mistakes by invoking the name of the official enemy. These arguments of innocence are as fraudulent as a Dominican cigar with a Cuban label on it.

Juan Penton, the Cuban cigar counterfeiter, sees himself as innocent because US policy tells him that the real criminal is Fidel, and thus Altadis USA has no trademark rights for Cuban cigars because of section 211. But, in reality, Penton is guilty of a crime, and Altadis does have registered trademarks in the US that are protected (as do many American companies have trademarks in Cuba that are protected). Section 211 does not cancel these legal trademarks, especially now that the WTO has ruled that section 211 is inconsistent with the core principles of international treaties protecting trademarks.

Jorge Rodriguez Marquez, Bacardi employee, sees nothing wrong with quid pro quo political contributions because the real villain (Fidel Castro) must not win. But, in fact, Rodriguez Marquez's actions were unethical and illegal because he had later violated the principles of the Lobbying Disclosure Act to hide his actions at the time. Bacardi alone has drawn numerous criticisms from the non-profit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) for violating federal campaign laws. CREW has also condemned the cancellation of Cubaexport's Havana Club trademark, and called Bacardi's political conspiracy as "fraudulent and deceitful."

Some US congressmen are also guilty of ignoring the errors of section 211 and the unethical tactics of Bacardi USA. According to the Miami Herald, Bacardi continues to influence and derail changes to section 211 in Congress. US Representative Tom Feeney (District 24) believes "the [Bacardi] cause is right... [Havana Club] was stolen by Castro." Feeney added his name to Robert Wexler's (Florida- District 19) newest House bill supporting section 211 this past March. The bill denies "recognition by United States courts of certain rights relating to certain marks."

The bill only helps Bacardi USA and discriminates against Cuba. Bacardi argues that the Havana Club name was stolen (expropriated) by the Cuban government, but this is only part of the whole story, and another example of a "fake" argument turned against the official enemy.

[Part 9]

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