Cuba has unveiled a new brand of rum, calling it a first step in its fight against the US trade bias toward the island nation.
The launch of Havanista Friday follows a recent US Supreme Court ruling that denies Cuba's right to sell the renowned Havana Club rum in the US, ending an 18-year court battle between the cash-strapped Caribbean country and global competitor Bacardi.
Cuba can continue to sell its Havana Club rum around the world, but not in the US, a leading market, reported Xinhua.
Havanista is Cuba's first salvo against what it perceives to be "US trade discrimination", said Jerome Cottin-Bizzonne, director of the French-Cuban joint venture Havana Club International.
Interviewed by local Radio Rebelde, Cottin-Bizzonne said Havanista has all of the same features as Havana Club, including "the same bottle and quality ... as well as the same ways of communicating the values of Havana and its culture".
The US court decision bans Cuban-made Havana Club from being sold in the US even if the 50-year US-led economic embargo against Cuba is lifted.
But Havanista "could be sold in US market once the trade barriers are gone", said Cottin-Bizzonne, adding his enterprise will continue to defend Havana Club.
With Havanista, said Cottin-Bizzonne, his company can "defend the rights of US consumers of Havana Club", which he says is in high demand there.
The court's decision to refuse Cuba the right to use the Havana Club trademark in US territory gives commercial advantage to Bacardi, a former Cuban company, which moved its rum operation to Puerto Rico following the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
Cuba has continued to produce the rum and sold it worldwide through a partnership with France's spirit company, Pernod Ricard, which has accused Bacardi of defrauding consumers by selling rum made in Puerto Rico under the Havana label.
In 2011, Havana Club International sold 38 million 9-litre crates of rum to more than 120 nations.
Havana Club was established in Cuba in 1878 by the Arechavala family, who sold the patent to Bacardi in 1935.
Cuban authorities registered the trademark in 1976 in the US and other countries.