Friday, December 24, 2021

Cuba's Hotel Nacional

Havana's Hotel Nacional has borne witness to some of the biggest events of Cuban history over it's 91 years. It was once bombed as part of a conflict between rival units of Cuba's military, hosted a summit of mafia dons, was a key site of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and was a holiday jaunt for Hollywood's A-listers. Las Vegas didn't exist and Cuba was the perfect place for gambling due to its proximity to the United States, the climate, the beaches, the rum. Perched on a hill overlooking the Straits of Florida, the Hotel Nacional was opened on December 30, 1930, financed partly with mob money. Havana was ideally placed to become the gambling capital of the world.
The Havana Conference was organized by Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, and brought together top mobsters from crime families across the US. The Havana conference ended on December 26, 1946.
The Mob’s role in Cuba exploded. It ended on January 1, 1959, with the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista.
Among the topics was Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel and his Flamingo Hotel. Siegel had been sent to Vegas to oversee construction of the new resort. When the budget swelled from $1m to $6m, mobsters suspected that Siegel, along with mistress Virginia Hill, were skimming. Meyer Lansky passionately defended Siegel at the Havana meeting. It was a temporary reprieve. Siegel was gunned down on June 20, 1947.
See ----->'Bugsy' Siegel