RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS HB Historical and Cuba

From: Jose Latour (
Date: 15 Jan 2002

Dear Erick:

I wrote a gangster's novel set in 1958 Havana. Fictional plot, naturally, but I did extensive research and learned facts, half-truths, allegations, gossip and probably some lies as well about the Mafia-controlled gaming industry here. On many occasions I couldn't separate the wheat from the chaff, distinguish fact from fantasy, but since I was writing fiction I thought "what the heck.". For instance, did you know that --allegedly-- the reason Albert Anastasia ordered Frank Costello snuffed was that Costello and Meyer Lansky refused to share Havana with the other New York Mafia families? Costello survived and had Anastasia assassinated a couple of months later (fact). One of the main issues discussed at the 1957 Appalachin crime convention (fact), held to prevent what threatened to become full-scale war among families (fact) was the control of the Havana casinos. Allegedly, Joe (Bananas) Bonnano argued that when he controlled Montreal during and after Prohibition (fact?), he shared it with all the other families, so why wouldn't Lansky and Costello reciprocate? Lansky's response (allegedly delivered by Santos Trafficante, his personal representative to Appalachin) was that whoever planned to wrest the control of gaming in Havana from Lansky and Costello would "sleep in a wooden pajama 24 hours after landing in Cuba."

For research purposes I recommend a visit to Havana first, to see the hotels where the casinos operated. The casinos were closed in 1960, if my recollection is precise, but all the hotels remain: Nacional, Deauville, Capri, Riviera and Havana Hilton. There are tons of information in the American press from the 1950's. Many non-fiction books on the Mafia deal with this as well. Material abounds and research is easy.

I don't know about on-line since I can't access Internet. To my knowledge, no other Latino fictional author has written about this. Probably my book will be published in 2003, In Ebglish, of course.

Let me know if you are coming to Cuba. I may be able to give you a hand.

All best,


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