Havana

Havana in the 1950’s is a vibrant and prosperous city, much of its wealth coming from its sugar industry.  While Europe is dealing with post-war austerity, Cuba is wealthy and a centre for tourism and for gambling, albeit there is an undercurrent of crime and of poverty.  Rich Americans come here for their vacations and a blind eye is turned to Mafia involvement in the casinos and bars. It is a city that vibrates with life, sunshine, colour and of music, with new nightclubs such as the Tropicana, Havana nightclub A 1956 Cabaret Guide describes The Tropicana as: “the largest and most beautiful night club in the world. Located on what was once a 36,000-square-meter estate, Tropicana has ample room for two complete sets of stages, table areas and dance floors, in addition to well-tended grounds extending beyond the night club proper. Tall trees rising over the tables and through the roof in some spots lend the proper tropical atmosphere which blends well with the ultra-modern architecture of the night club. Shows include a chorus line of 50 and the dancers often perform on catwalks among the trees. Rhythms and costumes are colorfully native, with voodooism a frequent theme. Top talent is imported from abroad. Minimum at tables is $4.50 per person, but this can be avoided by sitting at central bar which has a good view of both stages”. While, through the involvement of Meyer Lansky, Havana has become the Latin Las Vegas, with a vibrant tourism industry and nightlife, there is unrest in the background.  In March 1952  Fulgencio Batista had taken over the Cuban government in bloodless coup d’état and this his presidency was recognised by the US government within two weeks.  There was however local opposition. In 1953,the Castro brothers and about one hundred other rebels had attacked the Moncada army barracks in Oriente Province. The attack was a failure, and the few rebels who were not killed were caught, tried, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.  The Castro brothers and the rest of the Moncada prisoners had been pardoned in 1955 after a public campaign, and went to Mexico, where they were joined by Ernesto Che Guevara. Book reference:  

Havana