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Posted Thursday, March 28, 2007
Famed Haitian brewer Michael Madsen dies at 65
By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald Writer

He was a visionary and entrepreneur whose devotion to Haiti led him to form his own political party and give the country one of its best-known commercial exports: Prestige beer.

Michael Madsen, the man who transformed countless of Haitians into beer drinkers, died Saturday of a heart attack while entertaining friends at his mountain home near Kenscoff, a suburb just outside of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince. He was 65.

''Haiti was his life. Haiti was his blood. All he did was to make Haiti better,'' said Dorothy Chancy, longtime friend and marketing director for Brasserie Nationale d'Haiti, Madsen's company.

Though well-known in Haiti's small but elite business community, Madsen made international headlines in 2000 when Prestige bested 19 other beers to win the international Gold Medal at the World Beer Cup. Four years later, Madsen announced expansion to Miami, Turks and Caicos and Haiti.

Madsen's family emigrated to the Caribbean island from Denmark in 1896.

After attending school in France and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Madsen returned to Haiti and in 1973 founded the brewery. As a wealthy industrialist, he was often attacked by critics for not adequately paying his workers.

But Seth Joseph, his Miami attorney and friend, said as one of the largest employers in Haiti, Madsen ``kept people on when they couldn't work, when they were unable to find other jobs. He was a sucker for a sad story.''

The other was his political involvement.

Madsen believed it was his duty to get involved and a few years ago formed the Haitian Liberal Party.

Copyright 2007 Miami Herald Media Co. Reprinted from The Miami Herald of Thursday, March 28, 2007.

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