Apartheid's Merchants

Friday, May 15, 2009
During South Africa's apartheid, companies like Debeers -- the most famous name in diamonds -- took advantage of all of apartheid's mechanisms to provide the company with cheap and docile labor for its mines. Today, U.S.-based companies like Ft. Lauderdale's Splash Tropical Drinks seek to profit from the Castro regime's segregated, beachfront enclaves. Please recall that Cuban nationals are barred from hotels, beaches, restaurants, nightclubs and even medical clinics reserved for tourists.

The AP reports on products authorized for sale to Cuba under the agricultural exemption of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000:

Rep. Joanne Emerson, R-Mo., one of the waiver's original backers, said that lawmakers at the time weren't focused on deciding item-by-item which products to allow and which ones to disallow.

"When you get to the weeds, I don't think that's a good thing," she said, adding, "The more products we can sell to the island, the better."

The waiver has created all kinds of exotic opportunities for American businesses.

One of the first U.S. companies to sign a deal with Cuba was not an agriculture giant sending grain from the heartland. It was a drink mix company in Fort Lauderdale.

Rich Waltzer, owner of Splash Tropical Drinks, frequently provides the mixes for the daiquiris and margaritas tourists sip at Havana's legendary Hotel Nacional.