Obama’s trip was the first visit to the island nation by an American President since 1928 when Calvin Coolidge made the trek.
It wasn’t long before Trump turned back the pages and strengthened the 55-year embargo on tourists going to the island. Among the changes were the ending of people-to-people visas, educational visas became restricted and American citizens were again barred from doing business with any agency, bureau or organization with links to Cuba’s security forces. The roll back of free travel even earned the ire of Pope Francis.
Despite the embargo, American airlines such as Jet Blue, American and Delta still fly to Cuba. In 2017 over 600,000 U.S. citizens visited under twelve broad categories which included family and education.
With a little ingenuity, tour operators came up with ideas which passed State Department inspection. Tours like “The Mob’s Havana,” operated by the Las Vegas Mob Museum, are still ongoing. The museum, a Las Vegas attraction, is one of a handful which feature a working saloon along with its own distillery.
The barber chair from New York’s Park Sheraton Hotel where Albert Anastasia has been on display as has other memorabilia linked to the history of the mob in ‘Sin City.’
American crime bosses including Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano invested millions in the 1950s attempting to turn Cuba into the Las Vegas of the Caribbean. With proximity to America’s East Coast, Havana rivaled Las Vegas as a tourist spot for a while. Then Fidel Castro took charge, and the casinos were shut down and the mobsters chased out.
Visitors can still see much of Havana’s mid century glamor. From the 1950s cars which are ubiquitous to the nightclubs and hotels which have stayed open since they flourished during Havana’s heyday.
Operated by Cuba Executive Travel, packages start at $1500 and include a pre-tour of Mafia hangouts in Tampa, Florida and round-trip airfare.
The museum, located at 300 Stewart Avenue in Las Vegas, recently teamed up with Las Vegas Metro PD to teach Vegas residents about home security. Officers shared common sense steps which are often easy to forget — such as leave a light on and lock your doors.