Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERS: Andrés Brugal

Inside Puerto Plata’s series on “Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERS” will highlight and give well-deserved praise to amazing individuals, past and present, who have had a tremendous impact on Puerto Plata and its surrounding areas. We will be featuring both revered and controversial figures and look forward to stimulating dialogue from you, our readers.


In this particular post, we will talk about a man who had a great impact not only in Dominican Republic and Puerto Plata, but also all around the world. His surname is usually pronounced in pubs anAndres Brugald bars where good liqueur is offered, and is always associated with outstanding rum and quality distillation processes. You will see here that this man is not only responsible for the quality cocktails that people drink nowadays, but also for the business and industrial shift of a whole country.

Born during the very beginning of the second half of the 19th century (January 29, 1850, to be precise) in Sitges, Cataluña, Spain, Andrés Brugal decided to leave the old continent in 1868 and moved to Santiago, Cuba. During this first stop in the Americas, he acquired work experience in sugar cane distillation and in the rum making field. Due to the war that was taking place in Cuba, he decided to move to Dominican Republic and start his own company in the beautiful beach town of Puerto Plata, where he also took up permanent residence. That was the event that changed Dominican Republic’s industry.

Founded in 1888, and thanks to “Don” Andrés’ experience in Cuba, Brugal & Co. took Dominicans by surprise and introduced a high quality rum, which was made locally in Puerto Plata. That was the beginning of the rum making industry in Dominican RepublRum2ic, and also the beginning of a long family tradition, since the Brugal family has been managing the company until today.

During the following years, Brugal & Co. grew fast in popularity and Andrés Brugal, unknowingly, started to become the forerunner of business leadership in Dominican society. With an innovation, originality, quality and hard-work mindset, this Gamechanger set a whole new business philosophy, which serves until today as spiritual guidelines for companies, managers, business leaders and entrepreneurs all over Puerto Plata and Dominican Republic.

Due to the fast growth of the company, Andrés Brugal decided to open some new factories in the city of San Pedro de Macoris. Also, the first rum ageing storehouses were built, which featured oak barrels and advanced a whole new “Golden Rums” product segment thanks to Andrés Brugal’s initiatives. He knew that the white oak barrels combined with the particular weather of the “Bride of the Atlantic” would give his products the unique flavor needed to shine among all competitors.

Apart from his knowledge in rum’s distillation, production and ageing, Andrés Brugal was so smart and had such a strategic thinking that he set a tradition among Brugal & Co.’s managers to adapt to changes. That is why his company is always at the forefront of the production processes trends, and that is why Brugal & Co. always supplies all the market’s demands. At that time, this point of view was very radical, but today, it has influenced business leaders all over the world.

Andrés Brugal, the GAMECHANGER

Andrés Brugal made a name for his family as expert artisans in the production of fine rum. He also made some of his relatives work as “Rum Masters”.  They were involved in each and every stage of the production in order to bestow the Brugal seal in all their products.

Since Andrés was not satisfied with a full operating and successful company, he decided to establish the “Brugal Foundation”, a non-profit organization that, until today, has the objective of supporting the country’s economic development. Through different programs and activities, this foundationRum works hard in order to improve life conditions of people in need in Dominican Republic. From building schools or houses to educating Dominican children, the Brugal Foundation has always presented a strong commitment with the community. With this initiative, Andrés Brugal’s influence started reaching not only businessmen in Puerto Plata and Dominican Republic, but also philanthropists from all over Latin America.

Thanks to “Don” Andrés’ vision and hard work, Brugal is now at the top three most consumed rums in the world, and its Golden Rum is the most sold in the Caribbean. Also, Brugal & Co. is considered as the Dominican “country brand”, due to its role as an active partaker in Dominican Republic’s industrial development.

After an extensive business and influential life, Andrés Brugal died on December 5, 1931, in Puerto Plata, and his body rests in the family’s local sepulchral vault. Today, there are more than 1,500 Dominican people, scattered over seven generations, who descend from this Spanish immigrant who had come to Puerto Plata to start a revolution in Dominican Republic’s industry.

Undoubtedly, Andrés Brugal had a vast career as a businessman and his vision has been an inspiration to many company leaders and rum-making experts. That is why it is so complicated to describe his whole influence in the Dominican Republic without forgetting or passing by some aspects. We, at Inside PuBrugalerto Plata, will take a shot and summarize the influence and legacy of this Gamechanger, both in Dominican Republic and Puerto Plata, with the following list:

  • Through his family business, Brugal & Co., he kick-started the Dominican rum-making industry.
  • His company offered a lot of job positions and opportunities for families in Puerto Plata.
  • He established a whole new business management and leadership mindset in Dominican society, which other businessmen all over the world adopted as their new business and management philosophy and style.
  • He set a new quality standard in the rum-making industry, protecting the local production.
  • With the Brugal Foundation, he supported the economic development of the country by helping Dominicans in need and offering them opportunities and hope.
  • He led a family business into global recognition, from which all Dominicans feel proud of.
  • He was a centerpiece in Dominican Republic’s industrial development, making Brugal & Co. the Dominican country brand.

Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERS: Ulises Heureaux


Inside Puerto Plata’s series on “Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERSwill highlight and give well-deserved praise to amazing individuals, past and present, who have had a tremendous impact on Puerto Plata and its surrounding areas. We will be featuring both revered and controversial figures and look forward to stimulating dialogue from you, our readers.


Inside Puerto Plata’s series on key figures in Puerto Plata’s history continues with a summary of the well-regarded and disreputable Ulises Heureaux. Born in Puerto Plata in 1844, Ulises made his mark on the Dominican Republic as both a military man and dictator.

Nicknamed Lilís, Ulises served as a lieutenant under the esteemed General Gregorio Luperón, and played a significant role in the Luperón administration’s cabinet before becoming president in 1882. Ulises served multiple terms as president; the first from 1882 to 1884 and again using electoral manipulation and fraud from 1886 until his assassination in 1899.

Ulises was described as a man who had a thirst for power and control. He was a very popular statesman and in his quest for domination, he managed to manipulate previous and interim administrations to his benefit. His first term as president was described as an uneventful one; however, Ulises successfully conspired to secure longterm control of the country for more than a decade.

Ulises Heureaux the GAMECHANGER

There were a series of events that set the stage for Heureaux’s dictatorship. First and most important was the effective series of moves he undertook that extended presidential terms from two years to four years.

Heureaux’s administration, unlike others before, included members from opposing sides of government and utilized a network of secret police and informants that helped to prevent citizen uprising and rebellions.

In 1892, a sequence of pivotal meetings took place between President Heureaux and a group of Wall Street businessmen. The group of businessmen, known as the San Domingo Improvement Company, had purchased all of the Dominican Republic’s foreign debt and the country was not making payments. Negotiations ensued and President Heaureaux quickly saw that these men, through their connections and resources, could be used to borrow money and help keep him in power1. Needless to say, much of the money went to support the dictator’s personal extravagances and the financial requirements of his police state2.

There were considerable improvements made to the infrastructure of the Dominican Republic while under Heureaux’s rule. These include the construction of a railroad from Puerto Plata to Santiago, the electrification of Santo Domingo, and his support of Cuban sugar planters, which subsequently led to sugar as the main export. However, widespread corruption overshadowed the administration’s improvements and dissent grew.

A member of a growing group called the Young Revolutionary Junta assassinated President Heureaux in July 1899 and escaped untouched. After Heureaux’s death, the Dominican Republic fell into bankruptcy and foreign financial control.

Ulises Heureaux was considered a smart and effective politician. Unfortunately for him and for his country, his legacy is marked by corruption, financial mismanagement, and eventual bankruptcy.

1How Wall Street Sleaze Led to Roosevelt’s Famed Corollary. www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/

2Dominican Republic Foreign Policy and Government Guide, Volume 1

Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERS: José Manuel Cobles

Inside Puerto Plata’s series on “Puerto Plata GAMECHANGERSwill highlight and give well-deserved praise to amazing individuals, past and present, who have had a tremendous impact on Puerto Plata and its surrounding areas. We will be featuring both revered and controversial figures and look forward to stimulating dialogue from you, our readers!


Our series on key figures in Puerto Plata’s history begins with a tribute to the venerable José Cobles! Born in 1923, José Cobles is affectionately and appropriately nicknamed ‘Puerto Plata’ after his birthplace. Influenced as a child by relatives who were musicians, Puerto Plata was always drawn to the music and rhythms of his homeland. However, it wasn’t until 1947 at the age of 24, that he was able to purchase his first guitar. It was during his early 20s while living in Santiago, Dominican Republic that he attained his beloved nickname.

Puerto Plata’s sound was an eclectic mix of bolero, guitar merengue, and Dominican son and for many years he performed in the underground music scene in Santiago, playing primarily in cabarets and brothels. This was not entirely by choice; the 30-year dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo enforced merengue as the national music of the Dominican Republic. The merengue of Trujillo’s reign was primarily played with the accordion and other string instruments rather than the guitar typically used in ‘country’ merengue. Since Puerto Plata’s style of music was suppressed by the dictatorship, recordings of guitar music were not allowed, thereby forcing musicians of the time to make their living in other trades. Puerto Plata worked as a carpenter and despite the imposed musical suppression he continued to master his craft.

With the assassination of Rafael Trujillo, the early 1960s brought well-needed change in the cultural climate of the Dominican Republic. Although not fully embraced immediately, guitar music slowly began to regain its popularity within the country.

Puerto Plata the GAMECHANGER

The music of Puerto Plata and other musicians who played during his earlier years was eventually given an official name. Now known as bachata, a very popular form of Latin American music enjoyed by millions to this very day, Puerto Plata is considered a pioneer and a living legend of this musical genre.

What is even more exemplary: Puerto Plata released his first recorded album in 2007 at the wonderful age of 83. Entitled “Mujer de Cabaret”, his debut album is reminiscent of a stifled time in Dominican cultural history. Composed during the Trujillo years and released in 2009, the classical love songs in Puerto Plata’s second album, “Casita de Campo”, are a compilation of beautiful, romantic lyrics and lively dance tunes.

José ‘Puerto Plata’ Cobles’ talent and resilience cannot be mistaken. Both of his internationally acclaimed albums are testimonies to his craft and now, at 92 years of age, Puerto Plata continues to play his beloved guitar and gift us with his music.