Fanjul brothers

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The Fanjul brothersCuban 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, 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 in 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.[1] Pepe Fanjul Jr. joined the sugar firm in 2002.[2] As of 2008, the company owned 155,000 acres (630 km2) in Palm Beach County.[3]

In October 1984, Alfonso Fanjul and J. Pepe Fanjul along with Gulf and Western Industries announced they had reached a deal for Gulf and Western to sell its sugar businesses in Florida and the Dominican Republic, along with associated operations, to the Fanjul companies, for an undisclosed amount. In the Dominican Republic, the transaction included 240,000 acres of land, a sugar mill, two hotels in the capital of Santo Domingo and a resort area in the eastern region of La Romana. Assets included in the Florida purchase were 90,000 acres of land in Palm Beach County, a sugar mill and a sugar refinery.[4]

The Fanjul family historically have focused their corporate philanthropic activities on the rural communities of western Palm Beach County, including the creation of a family strengthening center equipped with day care, after-school care and food assistance programs [5] and the development and maintenance of a charter elementary and charter high school. In 2013, New Hope Charities celebrated 25 years of service to the communities and honored J. Pepe Fanjul, its longtime chairman.[6]

With the region’s desire for expanded economic development in the agricultural area, the Fanjul brothers partnered with the Business Development Board to assist full-time with the recruitment of economic opportunities.[7]

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.[8]

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"[9] report lists sugarcane from the Dominican Republic as having child and forced labor. This is a small source of raw sugar that is imported from 40 different companies to be refined then sold by Domino Foods, a marketing cooperative that among its products sells the Florida Crystals brand.

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.

Various business holdings and ventures[edit]

The Fanjuls began vertically integrating their sugar holdings in 1991 with the creation of the company’s own sugar marketing arm. Previously, their Florida sugar was marketed by Savannah Foods & Industries of Georgia.[10]

In a turn of diversification, in 1994, Flo-Sun broke ground on a joint venture with U.S Generating Co. to construct a cogeneration power plant adjacent to the company’s Okeelanta sugar mill in western Palm Beach County. At a cost of $200 million, the power plant would produce energy from sugar cane stalks and woody waste that would be delivered via Florida Power and Light to an estimated 46,000 homes.[11] After the partnership dissolved, Flo-Sun began operating the biomass power plant on its own in 1996 and expanded it to the largest in the nation by 2006 [12]

In 2010, the Fanjul family celebrated the 50th anniversary of their American sugar companies, which at the time included 187,000 acres of farming in Palm Beach County, Florida with 2,000 jobs and more than 650,000 tons of sugar.[13] Worldwide the Fanjul companies at the time included four raw sugar mills and 10 refineries in six countries, making them the world's largest refiner of cane sugar, producing 6 million tons of sugar annually.[14]

In 2011, Fanjul Corp. was ranked the third largest private company in Florida. CEO Alfonso Fanjul granted a $1 million charitable contribution to the University of Miami to build a research center for the top eye hospital in the nation.[15]

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.[16]

Intentions in Cuba and Reaction[edit]

Over the years, the Fanjul brothers had made clear they intend to reclaim their lost properties and mansions in Cuba, and in early in 2014, Alfonso Fanjul announced "business considerations could be explored only if there are political and diplomatic advances" in Cuba.[17] 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."[18]

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..."[19]

Political Influence in the United States[edit]

Despite the Fanjul family’s influence over U.S. policy and access to government officials at the highest levels of power, Alfy Fanjul has never become a U.S. citizen. He remains a permanent U.S. resident who maintains Spanish citizenship.[20] Alfonso Fanjul served as co-chairman of Bill Clinton's Florida campaign in 1992 and is a major contributor and fundraiser for the Democratic Party. His brother Pepe, who is a U.S. citizen, contributes to the Republicans.[21]

The Fanjul Family was explicitly thanked by Marco Rubio for their support in his autobiographical memoir "An American Son".[22]


  1. ^ Florida Crystals / Okeelanta Corporation jobs in Broward, Florida from
  2. ^ 23 Under 40
  3. ^ A Dance of Environment and Economics in the Everglades "New York Times"
  4. ^ Sugar Sale By G.&W. “New York Times”
  5. ^ People of Palm Beach County "Palm Beach County History"
  6. ^ New Hope Charities hosts annual holiday bazaar, toasts Fanjul "Palm Beach Daily News"
  7. ^ BDB teams with Glades leaders to recruit businesses “Palm Beach Post”
  8. ^ Grunwald, Michael. The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise. Simon & Schuster (2007), Chapter Sixteen, page 282.
  9. ^ United States Department of Labor, List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor [1]
  10. ^ Flo-Sun To Establish Sugar Marketing Arm "South Florida Sun-Sentinel"
  11. ^ Sugar Cane Stalks To Fuel Power Plant "South Florida Sun-Sentinel"
  12. ^ Co-Firing with Wood and Sugarcane Waste "University of Florida"
  13. ^ Florida Crystals 50th Anniversary Landmark "Palm Beach Post"
  14. ^ Florida Crystals 50th Anniversary Landmark "Palm Beach Post"
  15. ^ University of Miami gets $1M gift from Fanjul family "South Florida Business Journal"
  16. ^ S.E.C. Seeks Information On Bond Issue NY Times
  17. ^ Sugar tycoon Alfonso Fanjul now open to investing in Cuba under right circumstances "New York Times"
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ [3]
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Sweet deal: why are these men smiling? The reason is in your sugar bowl," Time magazine, Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, 11/23/1998
  22. ^ "Reading Of Marco Rubio’s Biography". 

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