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Bacardi Leads The Way In Puerto Rico Recovery Effort

October 4, 2017

With Puerto Rico still reeling from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria last month, one of the island’s most prominent businesses—Bacardi—is stepping up to play a major role in the relief efforts. In recent days, the company announced that it would devote $2 million to Puerto Rico’s recovery as the U.S. commonwealth digs out from its worst hurricane since 1928.

Since Maria slammed into Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm on September 21, Bacardi has prioritized its employees’ safety while helping to spearhead the wider relief effort. Ignacio del Valle, Bacardi’s regional president for Latin America & Caribbean, tells SND the company’s entire Puerto Rican team is now safe and accounted for. Meanwhile, Bacardi’s $2 million donation is being dispersed through relief organizations and the government to provide cash and material assistance to groups working on the ground. The company is providing direct relief as well.

“We’re working on what are called emergency ‘Stop & Go’ facilities,” del Valle says. “We have emergency medical services open and will help people locate their family and relatives.” Those facilities provide food, water, charging stations for electronics and activities and services to help children cope with the devastation. The ‘Stop & Go’ centers are part of Puerto Rican First Lady Beatriz Rosselló’s relief initiative Unidos Por Puerto Rico (United for Puerto Rico).

Bacardi is operating ‘Stop & Go’ facilities in Cataño, Toa Baja and San Juan. The Cataño center opened Monday, and the other two operations will be up and running by the end of the week. Currently, 150 employees of Casa Bacardi have volunteered to help operate the company’s relief centers, alongside medical personnel and government officials.

Beyond its immediate contribution, Bacardi is engaging in fundraising efforts to bolster the longer-term recovery. The company is hosting a Unidos Por Puerto Rico telethon concert at its rum distillery on November 19. Donations can be made through the fundraiser’s website. Meanwhile, Bacardi Ltd.’s global workforce has raised nearly $60,000 to help support their coworkers in Puerto Rico, independent of the company’s donation.

While relief efforts are ongoing, del Valle confirms that the Bacardi distillery itself was mostly unscathed by the storm, and the company—which is using its own generators to supply power—doesn’t expect any significant supply disruptions. “We didn’t suffer any damage to our distillation facility, our aging facility, or anything of that sort,” del Valle says. “Our production facility is operating and we expect to start the flow of exports by early next week.”—Shane English

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