The Fanjul brothers — Cuban born Alfonso "Alfy" Fanjul, José "Pepe" Fanjul, Alexander Fanjul, and Andres Fanjul — are owners of Fanjul Corp., a vast sugar and real estate conglomerate in the United States and the Dominican Republic. It comprises the subsidiaries Domino Sugar, Florida Crystals, C&H Sugar, Redpath Sugar, Tate & Lyle European Sugar, La Romana International Airport, and resorts surrounding La Romana in the Dominican Republic.
The Fanjul brothers' were born in Cuba and are descendants of the Spaniard Andres Gomez-Mena who immigrated to Cuba in the 19th century and built up an empire of sugar mills and property by the time he died in 1910. In 1936, his descendant Lillian Gomez-Mena married Alfonso Fanjul, Sr, the heir of the New York-based sugar companies the Czarnikow Rionda Company and the Cuban Trading Company. The couple's holdings were then combined to create a large business of cane sugar mills, refineries, distilleries, and significant amounts of real estate. Due to Fidel Castro's 1959 Marxist Cuban Revolution, the family moved to Florida along with other wealthy, dispossessed Cuban families. In 1960, Alfonso Sr., the father of the current CEO of Fanjul Corp. Alfonso Jr., bought 4,000 acres (16 km2) of property near Lake Okeechobee along with some sugar mills from Louisiana and started over on the US. Alfonso Sr. and his son Alfy Fanjul got the firm off its feet and Pepe, Alexander and Andres joined in the late 1960s and 1970s. Pepe Fanjul Jr. joined the sugar firm in 2002. As of 2008, the company owned 155,000 acres (630 km2) in Palm Beach County.
The Fanjul brothers were parodied in Carl Hiaasen's 1993 novel Strip Tease, which features a pair of Cuban brothers who own a large sugar conglomerate, that receives enormous profits from the exploitation of immigrant labor and the subsidies regularly voted to them by the United States Congress.
The brothers also were a focus in the Jamie Johnson documentary The One Percent, which showcases the corrupt use of cane workers and especially "imported" labor. The U.S. Dept. of Labor's "List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor" report lists sugarcane from the Dominican Republic as having child and forced labor. This is a major source of sugarcane for Domino Foods which is owned by Florida Crystals and the Fanjul brothers.
José "Pepe" Fanjul was part of the 17 December 2012 BBC2 television edition of fly-on-the-wall documentary Inside Claridge’s. He was shown as a regular client of the Claridge's Hotel, enjoying a luxury lifestyle in a £3,500 a night room, with a shooting in Scotland and trips across the world. He was said to have spent 300 nights at the hotel over the past decade.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report "Big Sugar" also exposes the slavery conditions of workers at Central Romana with clear footage. Nevertheless the Fanjul interviewed in the report keeps denying this fact with the argument that must correspond to another plantation.
Various business holdings and ventures
The Fanjul brothers were large shareholders and directors of Southeast Bank before its takeover and liquidation by the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1991. In addition, they are the majority shareholders and directors of FAIC Securities, which was investigated by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission for regulatory violations.
Intentions in Cuba and Reaction
Over the years, the Alfonso brothers had made clear they intend to reclaim their lost properties and mansions in Cuba, and in early in 2014, Alfonso Fanjul announced his intention of investing in Cuba and its sugar industry. This brought a sharp response in Washington D.C. from two of the U.S Congressmen from Florida:
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) released the following statement on reports of Cuban-American businessman Alfonso Fanjul considering investing in Cuba and its sugar industry.
"I am outraged by reports that a fellow Cuban-American, who has witnessed the atrocities inflicted by the Castro regime, has apparently chosen short-term profit over standing with the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom.
"Some might be blind to the Castro regime's brutality and ruthless oppression, but Alfonso Fanjul's betrayal is compounded because he knows better. He knows very well that any investments made with the Castro regime will not help the Ladies in White, Unión Patriótica de Cuba, the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front, or other pro-democracy groups, but rather, will go straight to the pockets of the Cuban people’s jailers and continue to prop them up.
"Alfonso should cry less for his lost mansion, and more for the imprisoned artists and musicians, oppressed independent journalists, or for the women that are beaten every Sunday for simply wanting to celebrate mass."
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement on reports of Cuban-American sugar tycoon Alfonso Fanjul considering investing in Cuba:
"At a time when the democracy activists on the island are facing even harsher reprisals from the brutal Cuban regime, it's pathetic that a Cuban-American tycoon feels inspired to trample on the backs of those activists in order to give the communist thugs more money with which to repress. The only little old thing that is standing in Alfy's way of realizing these sleazy business deals with the devil is US law. He doesn't talk about the arbitrary arrests of pro-freedom leaders in Cuba or the continual beatings endured by the peaceful Damas de Blanco. Oh no, for Alfy, the only hindrance to turning a profit off the suffering of the Cuban people is pesky US laws and he is working with groups to undo those laws. It is sickening to read that he brings up the separation of the Cuban family when he is doing all he can to exacerbate that problem. Shame on him..."
- Florida Crystals
- A Dance of Environment and Economics in the Everglades
- Sugar Buyout Only Adds to Complexity of Everglades Restoration
- The Castro Collection
- "Fla. sugar king Pepe Fanjul dreams of post-Castro Cuba."
- With acquisition of Tate & Lyle, Palm Beach County-owned sugar giant goes global
- 23 Under 40
- Florida Crystals / Okeelanta Corporation jobs in Broward, Florida from Jobing.com
- 23 Under 40
- A Dance of Environment and Economics in the Everglades "New York Times"
- Grunwald, Michael. The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise. Simon & Schuster (2007), Chapter Sixteen, page 282.
- Big Sugar (Parts 1 & 2)
- S.E.C. Seeks Information On Bond Issue NY Times