As Fidel Castro took control of Cuba a half century ago, it is commonly believed that he abruptly shut down Havana’s luxurious casinos and nightclubs and banished American racketeers from his island nation. While it is true that the end of Havana’s glitzy nightlife coincided with the final victory of Castro’s revolution, that end was not designed—or even sought—by the Cuban dictator. In addition, Castro’s relationships with American racketeers were far more complex than generally thought. His Cuban Revolution actually benefited from arms shipped to the island by American Mafiosi frustrated with the corrupt regime of Fulgencio Batista and hopeful of establishing a positive relationship with rising star Castro.
In the end, the casinos closed due to American reluctance to travel to postrevolution Cuba, despite Castro’s efforts to keep the tourist dollars flowing in. In this issue, we look back fifty years to the often misunderstood relationship between Castro and the Havana casinos (preview).
presence of Giuseppe Buccellato, a key figure in Bonanno’s own crime family and leader of Mafia rackets in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Historian Justin Dugard sets the record straight (preview).
Within this issue, we also look at Jack Ruby’s visit to Havana (preview) and at the membership of the early Bonanno Crime Family (preview). Books coverage includes an interview with Martha Sheldon, reviews and previews. Plus: A Look Back (preview), Ask the Informer (preview), and In the News (preview).