This is a memorial in front of the Hotel Nacional dedicated to the 266 people who died when the second-class pre-dreadnought armor cruiser USS Maine sank due to an explosion in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898, precipitating the Spanish-American War.
Dispatched to Cuba two months earlier to protect US interests during Cuba’s independence war with Spain, the Americans blamed Spain for the explosion and used it as the pretext to enter the war under the slogan ‘Remember the Maine’. However, the possibility that the US sabotaged its own ship, so as to justify entering the war, cannot be ruled out. The heavy iron eagle that originally topped the monument was knocked down by jubilant crowds immediately after the 1959 Revolution, who then carried the pieces triumphantly through the streets. Today, the segments of the eagle’s body are on permanent display in the Museo de la Revolución, the head is in the Eagle Bar of the US Interests Section, open only to American and Cuban staff.