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Paola Arechebala Consuegra

Immigrant Archive Project
Paola Arechabala's family, the founders of Havana Club rum, lost everything when their distillery was nationalized by the Castro regime. Paola shares their story and explains how they rebuilt new lives in the aftermath of such great loss.
Show transcript
00:00
I didn't understand the depth and the magnitude of our story
00:05
until I was older.
00:06
Probably when I was in high school, my parents sheltered us
00:09
a lot from things that they felt were going to be too difficult
00:13
to understand.
00:14
And there was no time for that.
00:22
Let's begin like we do with everyone with your name, nationality
00:25
and the place of birth.
00:26
Ok.
00:27
Um My name is Paola.
00:30
I was born in Miami, Florida and I am a Cuban American.
00:34
Well, let's go back to your, your childhood growing up here
00:38
in, in Miami.
00:39
Describe that for me.
00:40
What was that like growing up in Miami was uh busy.
00:44
It was interesting.
00:45
A lot of people, we had a lot of adults living in our house.
00:49
When I was growing up, we lived in a lot of different places
00:53
My parents worked a lot.
00:56
Um I'm the youngest of three, my grandparents lived with me
01:00
and so my grandfather died.
01:02
And then many years later when my grandmother died, my mom's
01:05
aunts lived with us.
01:06
So we were a big family all living inside a, a pretty small house
01:11
So life was busy.
01:12
You know, we went to school, we played sports, we had friends
01:15
we went to parties.
01:17
We, uh, we enjoy living in Miami did things that most Cuban
01:21
American kids did.
01:22
We went to the big five.
01:24
Uh, we all went to, to good schools.
01:27
Um, and, and we had a good life.
01:29
We had a very good life.
01:30
I'm a, I'm a little bit younger.
01:32
We're four years apart.
01:34
So I think I spent more of my childhood with my mom and dad.
01:38
Um and my brothers were older.
01:40
So, um my experiences I think were a little different than
01:43
theirs.
01:44
You're Spanish for having been born here.
01:48
It's like phenomenal.
01:49
Thank you.
01:50
Um How does that happen?
01:54
I mean, obviously, they must have taken great care in sort
01:58
of raising you.
01:59
Cuban.
01:59
Talk to me a little bit about that.
02:00
It was a non-negotiable.
02:03
Uh I think I speak Spanish well and uh I think it was because
02:07
it was a non-negotiable in my house.
02:09
It was a non negotiable.
02:11
My grandmother who we referred to as always lived in our house
02:15
And if she was sitting at the dining room table, it was not permitted
02:18
that we speak anything but Spanish.
02:20
It was always considered a disrespect that if someone didn't
02:23
speak the language that we weren't allowed to, to speak in
02:27
another language that wasn't Spanish.
02:29
My mother and father never spoke to me in English, they only
02:32
spoke to me in Spanish and that's how we had to communicate
02:35
So from a very early age.
02:36
Spanish was my first language, obviously, like most kids
02:39
that were born and raised in Miami from a Hispanic home, you
02:43
speak English very well as soon as you get to school.
02:45
But at home, it was a non-negotiable.
02:47
We had to speak in Spanish.
02:49
And since then, the older I got, the more I spoke Spanish, I
02:52
took Spanish all of high school and um lived out of the country
02:56
for a while in a Spanish speaking country.
02:58
So that was something that helped me.
03:00
And I think I speak Spanish today a lot more than I even did as
03:04
a child with my mom.
03:06
Did you guys rebel?
03:07
I remember that was a thing in my house too.
03:09
My sister and I used to love being on our own so we could speak
03:12
English because it was such a thing.
03:13
Was that a thing for you guys?
03:15
Not really, to be honest, I don't think so.
03:17
Rebelling really wasn't an option when we were growing up
03:20
My father was um was someone that we always had to respect and
03:25
he had some non negotiables and it was something that we didn't
03:28
even really fight.
03:29
I understand what you mean.
03:30
My Children rebel and my oldest will speak it a little bit more
03:34
than my youngest.
03:36
Um But no, I don't, I wasn't rebellious.
03:39
At least I don't think so.
03:40
She may disagree but I wasn't rebellious.
03:43
Did you, did you grow up in tune with your family story.
03:48
Did you realize what they had been through at an early age or
03:52
did that come about later?
03:54
I didn't understand the depth and the magnitude of our story
03:59
until I was older.
04:00
Probably when I was in high school, my parents sheltered us
04:04
a lot, or at least they sheltered me a lot from things that they
04:08
felt were going to be too difficult to understand.
04:11
And there was no time for that.
04:12
Both my parents worked.
04:14
My father worked two jobs, you know, we, there was too much
04:16
stuff going on that, that really wasn't something that they
04:19
spent a lot of time speaking to me about as a child.
04:22
I understood because I would hear stories.
04:26
Um, and I would overhear I was around adults a lot and I spent
04:30
a lot of time with my grandparents and my great aunts and a lot
04:33
of time with my mom and dad and my grandmother's siblings.
04:36
So I would hear a lot, but I don't think I really understood
04:39
the depth until I was older.
04:41
And of course, now today as a, as a grown woman, I understand
04:44
it much more.
04:46
And you said in high school, how did that, how did that come
04:49
about?
04:50
Well, because high school was a hard time for us.
04:52
My father went through a financial crisis and, um, there were
04:57
very hard, difficult times that I had to be a part of the conversation
05:03
because I had to be a part of the solution for the every day of
05:06
our life.
05:06
By that time, my brother had moved out, he was working and on
05:10
his own, my middle brother had moved out and gotten married
05:14
and I was home.
05:15
And so I had to face a lot of those hardships.
05:18
And I've always been my mom's sidekick.
05:20
So my mom always treated us developmentally what was appropriate
05:25
but she never sugarcoated things.
05:28
This is what life is giving us.
05:29
This is what we have to do.
05:30
She raises to be people of faith that we needed to believe that
05:33
there was a reason why things happened in life and that we needed
05:36
to move forward.
05:37
So when I was in high school, unfortunately, I had to learn
05:39
a lot more about the hardships of life.
05:42
And how did you come about to tie that into your family story
05:48
What had been their story in Cuba?
05:52
So it's kind of a funny story.
05:54
My grandmother, her nickname was Carmelina.
05:58
And um there was, I guess some saying when she was younger,
06:03
I guess living in Cuba that people would say she was this very
06:11
you know, strong and very convict.
06:13
You know, she's a woman with a lot of conviction and had a lot
06:16
of passion and she lived in a small town.
06:17
So everybody knew her.
06:19
And um somebody said in front of me one day, someone I had no
06:25
idea who they even were.
06:27
And I looked over and I said, wow, that's so funny.
06:29
You know, that's my grandmother's name.
06:30
It's not a very common name.
06:32
And I remember sitting down and asking my father, why do they
06:37
speak about her that way?
06:38
And so he started telling me more stories about their life
06:41
and more things that had happened to them.
06:43
And then little by little, I just started learning a lot more
06:46
about the story.
06:46
I'm the only girl.
06:47
And so as I said, I lived a lot at home with my parents until I
06:52
got married when I was 23.
06:53
So I spent a lot of time with my parents and then, you know, just
06:56
stories, the way that we learn all about our childhood through
06:59
stories.
07:01
Well, it's such a, such a remarkable, remarkable story.
07:05
You know, it's interesting.
07:06
I, um this is a brief little aside but, um, despite having left
07:12
Cuba when I was five, I never really came to grips with that
07:17
loss.
07:18
You know, what, what, what my family lost was next to nothing
07:22
compared to what your family lost and going through those
07:26
pictures and seeing the magnitude and the size of that company
07:30
and, and, and having those photos wash over me was just, uh
07:34
just phenomenal overwhelming, just overwhelming, overwhelming
07:40
Um, was that in high school that you came to understand?
07:45
Ok, this was, this was something of enormous magnitude or
07:50
I don't think until I was probably older, I don't think until
07:53
I was probably older.
07:55
We were never raised, or at least my mom never raised us to think
08:00
about the loss to define the future.
08:04
That wasn't, it was more about remembering where you were
08:07
from so that you wouldn't forget so that you would work harder
08:10
to be successful in the future.
08:12
But I don't think I really understood the magnitude of it until
08:15
I was an adult and that I was working and that I had to make my
08:19
own money and I had to buy my own things and have my own livelihood
08:24
that I really understood it.
08:25
The magnitude of it.
08:28
Um, it's hard to say because the same experience that you had
08:32
a lot of people have like, where they'll stop and they'll say
08:35
wow.
08:36
Um, I can't believe that that happened to your family.
08:39
It wasn't something that poppy filled with us of stories so
08:44
that we would commiserate in it.
08:48
So it was more about this happened and how are we going to move
08:52
forward?
08:52
I mean, still to this day, um, I just got a, an, an email from
08:56
a cousin of mine that has our family genealogy.
08:59
It's incredible the amount of things that they did, how hard
09:04
they worked, how they struggled to become the company that
09:07
they were all the things that they did.
09:09
Um, so in a way, it's hard because it was 60 years ago.
09:13
In another way you feel like it was yesterday.
09:15
Sometimes it depends on who you talk to.
09:18
Um, so I, I guess it just really depends but it probably wasn't
09:22
until I was older when it finally dawned on you.
09:25
And you came to that realization.
09:29
How did that affect the way you viewed your parents?
09:33
Was there a newfound sort of respect for what they had been
09:37
through?
09:38
Did that cross your mind?
09:39
It made me understand my dad more.
09:43
It made me understand why he was so driven with so many things
09:48
that were so important to him.
09:50
It made me understand the story of a and his passion for Bacardi
09:56
It made me, you know, like I said, mom was focused on tomorrow
10:02
How are we gonna get to tomorrow?
10:04
What are we gonna do to get everybody through school?
10:07
What are we gonna do to be able to pay our bills to get, you know
10:10
you know, the life things that was kind of mom's perspective
10:13
Bobby was more about, about not the forgetting piece, you
10:17
know, listen, it made, it made me very proud, obviously.
10:21
Um It shocks me to be honest with you how so many people have
10:27
been able to survive that emotionally.
10:30
It made me understand more of the nuances of who my father was
10:34
why he was the way he was.
10:37
Um he was not an easy person to get along with.
10:40
He had a, a tough character because I think he was trying to
10:44
protect himself.
10:45
It was part of the layers that he had, uh, to protect his himself
10:49
and, and the things that he had lost the what ifs of like, mommy
10:54
was never about the, what ifs we have to focus forward?
10:58
Bobby was more about the?
11:00
Wow.
11:01
But the what ifs of life, you know, he was always the optimistic
11:04
one that was always looking for another way to be able to move
11:06
forward.
11:07
Um So it, it made me obviously respect and love them more than
11:11
than I, than I do or than I did.
11:14
Um And it makes you understand a little bit more how they compartmentalize
11:18
you know, you meet Cubans and it depends like my father-in-law
11:21
is very passionate, but he can't move on from certain things
11:24
He struggles.
11:24
He came in Peter Pan, other Cubans compartmentalize that
11:29
pain.
11:29
I think mom was want more of the compartmentalizing kind.
11:32
I mean, I lived with my grandmother until she died and I was
11:36
23 years old.
11:37
My grandmother didn't reminisce on the pain.
11:40
She only focused on the beauty of her life and of the things
11:43
that she had.
11:44
And maybe that's just because they didn't want to fill us with
11:47
things that would bring us negativity and not make us joyful
11:51
And it was about rediscovering our new, normal and rediscovering
11:54
our new path and our new life in the United States.
11:58
Absolutely.
11:59
And the only way you're gonna find happiness is by accepting
12:02
that new normal and seeing the beauty in it No.
12:05
Yeah.
12:06
Yeah.
12:06
Yeah.
12:07
How, how, how powerful, talk to me about your dad's commitment
12:13
to seeing this brand of his families reestablished.
12:19
My father was probably one of the most stubborn people I've
12:23
ever met.
12:24
No, was never an option.
12:26
There was always an out there was always something that we
12:28
could do to make things happen.
12:30
Bobby was the one that anybody would call at two o'clock in
12:32
the morning because he knew he wouldn't ask you any questions
12:34
He would just go take care of you.
12:36
That was the type of man he was, he would take off his shirt to
12:39
give it to you if you needed it.
12:41
No questions asked.
12:42
He was 100% committed to a and to Bacardi.
12:48
It was something that was very important to him.
12:51
And when many people kept saying he was always like, ok, it's
12:56
all right.
12:56
Don't worry.
12:57
This is, this is me, this is my thing and it's what is, what's
13:00
important to me, but I'm gonna see it through until the day
13:03
he died, right when he was to, towards the last two years of
13:07
his life, he was really sick.
13:09
He um he had emphysema, he had been a lifetime smoker um and
13:14
had heart problems and he knew he was a hot mess.
13:17
And so, um I spent a lot of time with him towards the last two
13:20
years of his life, going to doctor's appointments and helping
13:22
him and we would talk every day.
13:24
And, um, he would call me, that was my nickname.
13:27
And so we would talk at all random times about random things
13:31
that were important to him.
13:33
And so when he knew he was really sick, he had gone to see one
13:35
more specialist.
13:36
I had, um, I had got him an appointment with a really good heart
13:39
surgeon because he was, he really thought he was gonna get
13:43
a heart transplant.
13:43
I'm like Bobby, they're not gonna give you a new heart.
13:45
You know, you can, you can hardly breathe.
13:46
It's not gonna happen, right?
13:47
So he was always trying to find a way to, to make that happen
13:51
So finally, when he accepted the fact that he was gonna die
13:53
he didn't wanna die.
13:54
Absolutely.
13:55
Did not want to die at all.
13:56
Had zero.
13:57
He wanted to live more than anything in the world.
14:00
He came to the house and he said that he wanted to give me um all
14:04
the paperwork and all the packets of everything that he had
14:07
Everything having to do with a, everything having to do with
14:10
Cuba, everything having to do with anything that was connected
14:13
to the and to Cuba and to Bacardi and Havana club and everything
14:16
because he wanted me to have it because um you know, I was the
14:21
one he said that would, that wouldn't forget.
14:23
And I was the one that would continue his dream.
14:26
And so he made me promise in his own way.
14:31
And so I promised him that if there was anything I could do that
14:34
I would continue to try and support his dream, which was something
14:37
that was really important to him.
14:40
So how gratifying is to see where this has come?
14:43
Oh my God, it's amazing.
14:45
He, well, he would have just been, he would have been completely
14:50
and totally elated.
14:52
He had become very emotional later in life.
14:55
Something he really wasn't, especially after my brother
14:57
passed away, he would cry at the drop of a hat over.
15:01
Anything that brought any type of emotion would tug his heart
15:04
in any type of way.
15:05
And, you know, I don't know emotionally how he would have handled
15:08
it, to be honest with you, I think it would have been very difficult
15:11
for him.
15:12
I think in his own way, he would have been joy filled and he would
15:15
have been bursting at the seams.
15:18
But I think it would have been really difficult emotionally
15:20
for him as well that um that whole experience for him, he would
15:25
have been very proud, but he would have, um it would have really
15:28
affected him emotionally as well.
15:29
I think how has it affected you?
15:33
You know, it's interesting that you asked me that um, I am on
15:37
the cusp of my 50th birthday and I think that the older that
15:42
I have gotten a little bit, the more sentimental I've become
15:46
I used to be a little bit more of a cynic and um, and I've become
15:51
a little bit more emotional about it.
15:53
I've always been proud, I am beyond proud to be an, it's always
15:58
been something that's been very important to me.
16:01
I'm proud of my heritage.
16:02
I'm proud of my family.
16:03
I'm proud of all the craziness that comes with being an because
16:07
we are by far, not perfect.
16:09
But I think that the older that I've gotten, the more emotional
16:12
it's made me, um the more humbling it's made me.
16:15
Um and um, and very proud, I really wish he would have been able
16:19
to have been here to have seen it.
16:21
And what was your mom's reaction?
16:26
You know, mom, um Mom is a little bit more reserved and mom um
16:32
holds, um she holds a little bit more um her heart to her chest
16:39
a little bit more.
16:40
She, she's a little bit more about not letting people come
16:44
in who might um not hurt her, but she's guarded.
16:48
Mom is more guarded emotionally.
16:50
She has suffered a great deal in her life and she has had a lot
16:53
of hardships and even though she's very strong, you know,
16:57
those things affect her, so she's a little bit more cautious
17:01
I would say I'm a little bit more passionate.
17:03
I definitely have much more of my father's personality.
17:05
I would say that my older brother has much more of my mother's
17:07
personality.
17:08
I'm much more passionate.
17:10
I'm much louder.
17:11
I get excited about things much more.
17:13
I take more chances.
17:15
That's just my personality.
17:16
Mom was a little bit more reserved.
17:18
Mom's always worried she's always worried about, you know
17:22
how it's going to affect things, how, you know, are we doing
17:24
the right thing or, or is, is everyone gonna be happy or, you
17:27
know, she's much more worried about stuff like that.
17:29
I think it took her by surprise.
17:31
I definitely know it took me by surprise, but I think it took
17:34
her by surprise, the immensity of all of it and really Tony
17:40
that people even care.
17:42
I it's um we just see ourselves as a normal family, another
17:49
Cuban family that went through the same story that many people
17:52
have gone through, except there's a little twist to us, right
17:55
So yes, story is amazing and what they did was amazing and it's
18:00
terrible what happened to them.
18:02
But like I've said many times, go around and talk to people
18:05
they have their stories.
18:07
So we don't really feel like we're special.
18:08
We just feel like we're the and there's a huge clan of us and
18:12
but we don't really see ourselves that way.
18:14
So to have experienced all of this campaign to have experienced
18:18
the joy that it has brought so many people to experience how
18:23
our story has affected people.
18:25
I think it's humbling.
18:27
It's um I definitely will say that it has been uh something
18:31
that mommy has said multiple times.
18:34
I can't believe it.
18:35
Like really there.
18:36
It's and so like you have to kind of pinch yourself because
18:39
even, even, even all of this is, is something that's not the
18:42
norm for us.
18:44
Well, I think beyond your story and you're right.
18:47
I mean, every Cuban has a story of lost and tragedy and um but
18:53
not every Cuban was putting out a product that was on our tables
18:58
during so many great moments, you know, there for weddings
19:04
and, and I mean, I look back at the photos of my parents, these
19:08
great black and white photos and in the fifties and be damned
19:12
if there wasn't one of your bottles on the table in somewhere
19:15
you know.
19:16
So you were part of that, your family was part of those celebrations
19:20
So, of course, of course, you're gonna feel a connection to
19:23
your, to your family and it's, it's quite, quite charming
19:26
that you, you, you didn't realize it or it came as somewhat
19:30
of a surprise.
19:31
No.
19:32
And then when you meet people that were a part of it that start
19:35
to tell you stories of it, you, you think to yourself.
19:39
Wow.
19:40
You know, so I think there's been a lot of those wow moments
19:43
Um And I think it's very exciting to know how it's exciting
19:47
for the younger generations who are really excited about
19:51
it and who um we went to dinner with um with someone that's very
19:55
excited about the brand and, and um just to see his face light
19:59
up with the story and, and this is incredible.
20:03
And what do you know?
20:04
And have you ever been there?
20:05
You know, the famous question, have you ever been there?
20:07
What have you seen, what were your parents stories?
20:09
Um They sheltered us a lot from that?
20:11
I think for many reasons because at the time they, they had
20:14
to work hard to be able to get to tomorrow.
20:17
I can see why they sheltered you.
20:18
That was a smart move, I think.
20:20
Yeah, I think um let's let's shift focus for just a second.
20:26
Um You're American and you were born here in the States, but
20:32
you're very Cuban at the same time.
20:35
So like how do you define Cuban?
20:39
How does that, you know, for, I guess in a certain context,
20:43
it's why you're either born there or you're worried, but that's
20:46
not, that's not the case.
20:48
How do you define it?
20:49
Well, I define myself as, as and Ramon's daughter and as defining
20:55
myself as a Ramon and Am's daughter by, by just who they are
21:01
I believe I'm Cuban.
21:02
I've never thought of myself as American first.
21:05
And it's something that, that a lot of people ask that question
21:08
Well, why you were born here?
21:10
Because I came from, from this extraordinary Cuban family
21:14
and from their history.
21:16
So I'm a product of them.
21:18
So that's why I think I also think living in Miami gives you
21:22
that edge of, of being Cuban and being proud of being Cuban
21:26
Um It's something that I don't think unless you live here,
21:29
you understand it.
21:31
You know, we call it that joy de v that, that feeling that, that
21:34
connection to who you are and where you come from, that, that
21:38
um that spirit that makes you different.
21:41
I really believe that I think we're very different, different
21:43
but I think it's because of, of where we came from and who raised
21:46
us like dancing and music and food.
21:49
And my father was an incredible dancer.
21:51
And so that to me, since the earliest age that I can remember
21:58
Bobby was always dancing.
22:00
Bobby was always playing music.
22:01
Bobby was always singing.
22:03
It was a part of, of who we were their heritage to them was very
22:06
important.
22:07
And so I think that by default, it became a part of who we are
22:11
You know, my brother doesn't live here.
22:13
Um I think, I think I'm more Cuban than he is, even though we
22:16
were raised and he was born in Cuba because I just think that
22:20
that's, it's part of living in Miami too.
22:23
And I think a big part of it also was storytelling 100%.
22:27
I think storytelling was such a way of handing that stuff down
22:31
to us.
22:32
Do you remember?
22:33
And not, not necessarily storytelling tied to your family's
22:36
you know, brand story, but just storytelling in general
22:40
Do you remember how that Cuban thing was transmitted to you
22:43
through storytelling 100%.
22:45
My first of all, my mother is a great storyteller.
22:48
Poppy was too.
22:49
Bobby had a great memory for all dates, all moments in time
22:53
things that were really important.
22:55
And I can't, I can't imagine or even remember a time that we
22:59
haven't sat here at this house together to have uh something
23:03
to eat or to have a drink or to get together to do something without
23:06
sharing a story.
23:08
It's, it's a part that definitely is a huge part of who we are
23:11
Um And, and clear memories and as we got older, more appropriate
23:16
you know, time in our life, other stories that were very hard
23:19
to hear and, and hard to understand.
23:22
Um but yes, through stories, through pictures, through a
23:25
lot of pictures, um through a lot of memory, um uh food, there
23:31
were always cooking, always some sort of connections to food
23:34
Um You know, it's like we love to eat.
23:36
So it's, it's a part of the family connection.
23:40
Absolutely.
23:41
And there were very little other ways of transmitting it.
23:44
I mean, we weren't allowed to leave with a hell of a lot of baggage
23:47
I was not like, oh, let's turn to our collection of home movies
23:50
No pal you couldn't bring that out.
23:51
Nothing.
23:52
Nothing to me.
23:53
That's the greatest for me.
23:55
The missing link is the going, the going to see where they,
23:59
where it started and where they came from.
24:01
That for me is a part that's so hard.
24:04
So I'll drive in front of my elementary school and I'll show
24:06
my kids where I went to elementary school or I'll show them
24:08
the house that I was born in.
24:10
For me.
24:11
That's been a very difficult piece of not being able to have
24:14
in my memory.
24:15
Would it look like then?
24:17
Because the pictures of today are obviously not worth even
24:20
seeing, but what it look like then.
24:22
So where they went to school and where they went to parties
24:25
and um, you know, where they lived, um where they got married
24:30
uh things that, that are, that were so important to them and
24:34
that's what often gets overlooked is how much was stolen from
24:40
us.
24:40
It was not just the material, it was what you just described
24:44
that I think is probably the most valuable thing that was taken
24:47
from all of us is that sense of belonging, that sense of being
24:51
able to say, yes, my story is real and it started here.
24:54
There's no here that here is a pile of rubble for the most part
24:59
Now, have you, have you toyed with the idea of going back at
25:04
any point?
25:05
So we did about 20 years ago.
25:08
Um I had convinced mom to go and, um, we decided not to go.
25:15
And, um, after that, like I mentioned, my father-in-law came
25:19
in and has had a very difficult time emotionally because of
25:22
it all.
25:23
And so I had gotten married and, um, it was, it wasn't the right
25:27
time.
25:28
Mom has always been scared about going back.
25:30
Um, and so we decided not to go and then I was older and then I
25:36
didn't want to go back because I didn't wanna go because I knew
25:40
it was going to cause her pain and it was going to be very difficult
25:42
for her.
25:43
And to be honest with you, I have zero interest in going without
25:46
her.
25:47
Because to me it's not gonna be the same.
25:49
Even now when people go back and they send you pictures, it's
25:53
it's like if it's a, a foreign place, I guess another planet
25:57
So it doesn't really have the same emotional connection because
26:00
I don't feel like it means the same.
26:01
I want to experience things.
26:03
I wanted to experience things with my father when he was alive
26:06
that would bring him joy.
26:07
None of that was going to bring him joy.
26:09
And you know, my mom's, my mom's story of how she left and, and
26:14
all that she went through it takes, you know, you know, you're
26:18
not really interested in being able to do that because you
26:20
think it's gonna cause so much more pain.
26:22
So I'd rather create better, newer memories and focus on things
26:27
that will bring her joy now and bring me joy now that we can do
26:31
in these, you know, in this last uh stages of her life.
26:36
Looking back, what would you say you've learned from first
26:40
your father, how to have fun, how to dance, how not to take life
26:47
so seriously.
26:49
Um how I have to plan a little bit better.
26:53
And I have to um always remember to take care of my family from
26:59
my mom.
27:01
I would say I've learned about my faith first about how to be
27:08
a mother, how to work really hard, how never to allow anyone
27:16
to take away from you.
27:17
It's yours and how life is always going to throw you a curveball
27:24
but you have to rise above it.
27:27
Mom has always said, keep your head up high and that's for sure
27:32
Something that, that she has taught us that I will never forget
27:35
Right?
27:36
One of the things that she always told me was we are here on borrowed
27:39
time.
27:40
You are given this chance and this opportunity to walk on this
27:44
earth for the goal of getting to heaven.
27:47
That's your number one goal.
27:49
After that.
27:50
Everything else will take care of itself.
27:52
And it's true.
27:54
She is a strong, independent, brutally honest uh woman who
28:01
always did everything she could so that her kids could have
28:04
everything that they had in life.
28:06
And I think we did pretty well.
28:07
I think we turned out pretty well and um it's really been because
28:10
of her backbone.
28:12
Wow, that's beautiful.
28:14
Ok.
28:14
So now you're obviously the head of a household, you're a mother
28:18
you have Children.
28:19
How do you take everything that you just shared with me and
28:23
transmit that to the next generation.
28:25
It's so hard, Tony because I feel like life was so much less
28:30
complicated when we were growing up, Miami was a different
28:33
city.
28:34
Um family and, and the, the thought of family was totally different
28:38
It was looked at differently.
28:40
There are so many variables now and so many things that come
28:45
at you all at the same time.
28:47
I, I work in education and it's something that I see every day
28:50
of my life, how the world that we're raising our kids in is so
28:53
differently and so many variables that we can control anymore
28:56
with social media and, and all these different things.
28:59
For me, the number one, we have non negotiables in, in our house
29:04
and so non negotiables of God family and, and love uh things
29:09
like having dinner together and it's a non-negotiable.
29:11
We're gonna sit down and we're gonna have dinner together
29:13
as a family.
29:14
Um We're always gonna be honest with each other.
29:16
We're always going to work hard.
29:18
We're always going to finish school and have a great education
29:21
because it's one of the only things no one can ever take away
29:24
from you.
29:25
Um you know, to be the student for life.
29:27
So that's what my husband and I do.
29:29
We work really hard to learn from our past and from the pain
29:33
of our parents.
29:34
It's inconceivable to me to think what it must have been like
29:38
at the age of 25 to have had to have walked away from everything
29:44
from everything.
29:45
It's that, that piece to me is one of the things that's one of
29:49
the hardest things for me to be able to fathom and understand
29:53
And so one of the things that I work really hard on is being independent
29:57
not depending on anybody being able to have an education
30:00
that no one can take away from you.
30:01
Things that were always going to help, better prepare you
30:04
for your future.
30:05
So that hardships like that, that will come inevitably in
30:09
all shapes and sizes and especially when you're least expecting
30:13
it, you will be able to confront those things as best as you
30:18
can with respect and humility and, and holding your head up
30:22
high.
30:24
I see a lot of both of your parents and you, you would have loved
30:27
my dad.
30:28
I'm sure I would have hit it off you.
30:35
I can see both sides of that in you.
30:39
Thank you.
30:39
I really can.
30:40
And I mean that in uh the only way you can take it as a compliment
30:46
um You've shared a lot on your mom and on your dad.
30:59
So is going to be seen and is being seen by a lot of people.
31:05
What aspect of your family story that's not included in because
31:13
it's only so long that you couldn't fit everything.
31:16
What aspect of the family story would you like the world to
31:21
know that they might not find within the confines of Amparo
31:28
is from 1957 to 1964 and 1965 let's say, um, really just a glimpse
31:40
in time.
31:41
So for me, almost 60 years later, one of the joys of having my
31:48
mom be present at a and be able to enjoy with her, with her Children
31:55
and her grandchildren is that people will see how great she
32:00
still is today and how she came out on the other side.
32:05
I, I, and I think that's the piece that I wish my father would
32:08
have seen because I think that Poppy died still yearning for
32:12
that so much, almost reaching that peace, almost getting
32:16
to that place where he could have said, wow, you know, we were
32:21
able to, we were able to really make this happen, you know,
32:24
with so many people, obviously not him by himself.
32:27
And, and I think that that's what I, that I wish for people to
32:30
know that they came out on the other side when we went to the
32:34
show in Miami.
32:36
And they, they had a pause where they, they said we're so lucky
32:41
because we have the real here.
32:43
That to me was the most proud moment of the night for me because
32:47
I felt like you see everybody here she is, you know, she did
32:50
a, she did a great thing.
32:52
She's just a small, small piece.
32:54
I mean, really mommy married into this family.
32:57
So it's just a small piece of the story.
33:00
But she was able to share it for years when we were kids.
33:03
I used to always tell her my, my mom and I love books and journals
33:07
and pens.
33:08
And when that five and dime store was in Sunnyland, we used
33:11
to go love to buy books and pens and pencils.
33:13
And I would tell her mommy write it down, write it down because
33:16
we're gonna forget, write it down because it's really important
33:20
So to me, it's, it's wow, this story, this one small glimpse
33:24
in time that changed the lives of so many people that were connected
33:29
to a is being shared.
33:32
But at the same time how wonderful that she and my dad were able
33:36
to tell their story because even though he didn't tell his
33:39
story for this small piece, now he did for over 25 years in his
33:44
relationship with Bacardi in, in all of the hours of interviews
33:49
that he had in sharing his story with us and all the letters
33:53
and all the writing and everything that he shared, his story
33:56
was shared.
33:57
And so for me that that's a piece that I think is really, is really
34:00
neat.
34:01
And then to see people say, wow, that's incredible that that's
34:05
your story.
34:06
And how come I didn't know that and why haven't you talked more
34:09
about that?
34:10
And that's, I think more my mom where we're like, well, I don't
34:15
know, you know, like where do you even find the venue to even
34:18
talk about something like that?
34:19
Right.
34:19
So which is, I think the special piece of Bacardi because Bacardi
34:23
has really taken the human story and, and made it a part of the
34:28
brand that it's not just another rum that it's something that's
34:31
connected to history and it's connected to people and it's
34:33
connected to family.
34:35
And so by bringing the element of the human story to life, it's
34:39
I think it's changed the whole perspective of it for everybody
34:43
So going to a restaurant and ordering the drink, my husband's
34:46
always very proud and he'll say, ask her because she's not
34:48
an and I'm always like, it doesn't matter, that's not important
34:51
right?
34:52
Because it embarrasses me and to see the reaction of people
34:56
when they say my God, I didn't know the story.
34:59
It makes me love this brand and this room even more like, isn't
35:04
that incredible that there's that connection to it?
35:06
That's that human connection, which is why I think it makes
35:09
it so special.
35:10
So that's a really long answer to your question.
35:12
But, but that's what I, that's how I see it.
35:15
No, it's a beautiful answer to my question.
35:17
And uh, and, and, and that's it.
35:19
You nailed it.
35:20
I mean, your product is us in a bottle.
35:22
So of course, we're gonna be endeared to it.
35:24
Of course, we're gonna love it and we're gonna embrace it.
35:26
Well, then if you look at the bottle.
35:27
So it's um this is something that Pappy was very, always very
35:32
proud of.
35:32
We have a family ring um that has our family crest on it.
35:36
And so all the men in the family always had the family and he
35:40
made me one for me to wear.
35:42
Uh that was more feminine.
35:44
And we've always seen the tree which is on, you know, which
35:48
is the kind of logo, our family crests.
35:51
My kids did projects on it when they were in elementary school
35:54
when we saw the label and saw the story on the label.
35:59
I mean, they didn't have to do that and, and to, to, to make it
36:04
so personal so that when someone picks up the bottle that they
36:08
can read the story and they can see a picture of the founder
36:11
and they see the logo on it there.
36:14
I mean, that's impactful and it's, it's like when you pick
36:17
up a great bottle of wine, the you taste the wine but come on
36:20
everybody looks at the label, right?
36:21
You look at it because it's something that's intriguing and
36:23
so beautiful of it.
36:24
And, and that's really one of the beauties I think of the label
36:27
because it's so personal.
36:29
It really is and so thoughtful.
36:31
Something that was done with so much love and care and that
36:34
was so thoughtful.
36:35
I mean, to have known my father, you would have appreciated
36:38
and understood why that was important to him because that's
36:42
the person he was, he oozed that love for his family.
36:46
I think that would have affected him to even at a greater, a
36:49
greater depth because to him it was something so important
36:53
and it's like they got it right.
36:55
So somebody that thought of it and, and the company figured
37:00
that out and was able to pick up that one piece of that human
37:03
element that was so important to them.
37:05
Wow, that was beautiful.
37:08
Again.
37:08
I don't wanna put words in your mouth, but I can't help but think
37:12
your father saying, yeah, you promise me, you know, you're
37:15
not gonna let this thing fall by the wayside and then seeing
37:20
where you guys are now that you could walk into a liquor store
37:23
and, and, and there's a product and there's a play that's about
37:25
to take place and a ton of people are gonna see it and you can
37:28
walk into LA while you see this fancy guy in his outfit making
37:31
Daer with their club.
37:33
That's gotta be like, what, what is that?
37:38
So it's mixed for me.
37:41
It's not probably the best word but a little bit of vindication
37:50
A little bit of God.
37:52
I'm so happy.
37:53
He would have been so happy to have seen this come to life and
37:59
part just pure joy that other people are getting to enjoy this
38:05
incredible rum and are, are able to, to enjoy the story.
38:10
So I'll tell you a funny small story.
38:11
So the first time that I went to an event that they were having
38:15
I remember walking in and feeling like I was in a, in a movie
38:18
because there was all of these incredible people dressed
38:22
up and you know, the label was everywhere and it was in this
38:24
very fancy cool hotel and, and I just kept walking around like
38:28
I was like in a movie like this isn't, this isn't our family
38:31
right?
38:31
This is like so surreal, like surreal.
38:34
It was so surreal.
38:35
And then a few weeks later I said to my husband, you know, I have
38:38
to go buy, I have to go buy a case of this.
38:40
I have to start giving this to people that I know and, and they
38:43
had just started selling it.
38:44
And so I remember going into a liquor store and there was a huge
38:48
Havana Club banner with cases and cases and cases of it.
38:52
And I remember turning and looking to my husband and saying
38:56
Bobby would have died.
38:58
He, he would have just, I mean, I can just imagine what he would
39:02
have done because it was like to a point that it was surreal
39:05
So it was like this dream that no one ever thought, you know
39:09
really?
39:10
Is it gonna really become this thing that we really in our minds
39:13
imagined to this incredible, incredible, incredible campaign
39:18
and story?
39:19
So for me, it's this mixed emotion of, wow, this is so exciting
39:24
I'm so glad that they were able to do this and that our real story
39:28
was able to come out so that people know the truth of what really
39:31
happened to while at the same time just being pure joy.