The mafia in Havana

One of the greatest temples of Mafia power was placed in Cuba in the 40s.

Incomprehensibly, Cuba has not focused on this dark but historic and exciting past of the Caribbean island.

It was Fulgencio Batista, in the 30s, being a military man, who initiated contact with organized crime. After his rise to power, in the 1940s, these contacts grew until the country was moved.

The origin of all this started Amleto Battisti. Bribing Cuban officials took over the Hotel Sevilla in 1939. This caused rivalries and power struggles until 1959, when the Revolution triumphed.

Hotel Sevilla
Hotel Sevilla

Batista granted Meyer Lansky control of the National Hotel and its casino.

Hotel Nacional
Hotel Nacional

Among the buildings that witnessed these two decades of debauchery is the Tropicana Cabaret, the Riviera Hotel, the Habana Libre Hotel, the Sevilla Hotel or the Nacional Hotel, others like the Sanghai Theater or the Hippodrome, have already disappeared.

Hotel Havana Libre
Hotel Havana Libre

The Riviera hotel counted on being the most modern of its time thanks to its promoter Meyer Lansky.

Hotel Riviera
Hotel Riviera

Other hotels related to the mafia were the Capri Hotel or the Gran Caribe Plaza, where Lansky dined with his lover when the Revolution triumphed, truncating his fantasies of building hotels and casinos.

Hotel Gran Caribe Plaza
Hotel Gran Caribe Plaza

At the end of the 50s, money, gambling and tourists, many of them on express visits from the United States, increased. It was the moment of maximum apogee in terms of the money that moved, was built …, the croupiers did not pay taxes, they were considered technicians, meanwhile, the “bearded” struggled in the East to liberate Cuba from US domination.

Meyer Lansky was the main ringleader of the Mafia in Havana, reaching its peak at the Summit that was held at the Hotel Nacional in 1946.

Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky

In the week of December 22, 1946, the Havana Conference took place at the National Hotel.

A historical fact where the American mafia, the leaders of the Cosa Nostra and the Jewish Crime Syndicate came together. It was attended by delegations representing all the families of the crime in the United States.

Lucky Luciano rented the second floor in full. Frank Sinatra stayed in one of them.

Lucky Luciano and Frank Sinatra, Hotel Nacional
Lucky Luciano and Frank Sinatra, Hotel Nacional

Apart from Luciano, he was at the meeting of Santos Traficante, Amadeo Barletta, Meyer Lansky, Vito Genovese, Frank Costello …

In this Summit, the big bosses, shared the game business of the United States and Cuba.

The National Hotel has a gallery of photographs of the time that recalls those characters.

It is supposed to be organized by the Sicilian mobster “Lucky” Luciano. It discussed political issues, business interests and rules of action. Among the topics to be discussed, the world narcotics trade.

Lansky made this summit the closest thing to a vacation, recruiting more than 150 prostitutes and making Frank Sinatra liven up the meeting. The admiration between Sinatra and Luciano was known. Luciano had a cigarette case in which you could read: To my friend Lucky by Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra together with the mafiosoes Joe and Rocco Fischetti in the bar Sloppy
Sinatra together with the mafiosoes Joe and Rocco Fischetti in the bar Sloppy

It was at this summit, where it was decided to end the gangster Bugsy Siegel, since the construction of the Flamingo Hotel in Vegas, which was supervised by him, had far exceeded the budgeted expenses. This was murdered 6 months later.

With the melting of relations between the United States and Cuba, promoted by Obama, the descendants of Meyer Lansky, who was the right hand of Lucky Luciano, have not wasted their time, and demand compensation from Cuba for the expropriation of the Riviera hotel.

Lansky founded the hotel company Riviera in Cuba in 1956. I wanted to build the largest hotel-casino in America. At that time, in the time of Batista, the game was legal, and this earned the tanden Lansky-Luciano to launder money from prostitution and drug trafficking.

Havana was known as “the Paris of the Caribbean”, but at the entrance of the mafia it became the brothel of North America. Thousands of Americans landed on the island to get drunk on vices.

But in 1959 the triumph of the Revolution led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara among others, ended all these dreams of Mafia power.

The Che Guevara and Fidel Castro
The Che Guevara and Fidel Castro

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