In the May 6 article Cuba cruisers find Tropicana still vibrant after all these years, wher she spoke about the present Tropicana nightclub experience, reporter Mimi Whitefield alludes to the fantasy that the Mob once “… controlled casinos, hotels and entertainment venues.”
As a friend of Max Borges, Tropicana’s architect and most of the families that owned many of these venues, I know that this is fantasy first proposed by Fidel Castro and his communist mobsters to justify what they were doing to Cuba and the senseless murder by the communists of Lt. Colonel Blanco Rico while having dinner at the Montmartre Cabaret. It was perpetuated by Francis Ford Coppola in his film Godfather Part II.
In fact, most of Havana’s elite hotels and casinos like the Tropicana, the Sans Souci, the Chateau Madrid and the Montmatre were owned by long-established Cubans. The Hotel Nacional, owned by a well-known Washington attorney and his many partners, was run by Intercontinental Hotels.
The Habana Hilton was owned by the Cuban Waiter’s Union and run by the Hilton chain. The Hotel Riviera was owned by a consortium of many investors that included well-known American hotel owners.
There was no mob meeting with Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s as Coppola would have us believe. This fantasy appears to be based on a 1946 fun convention at the Hotel Nacional, with the likes of Frank Sinatra and his cronies.
Raul G. Ordonez Jr.,