Monument to the Victims of the USS Maine (Havana)

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Monument to the Victims of the USS Maine
General information
TypeMonument to the Victims of the USS Maine, ca. 1930
Architectural styleClassical
AddressMalecon and La Rampa
Town or cityCoat_of_arms_of_La_Habana.svgHavana
CoordinatesCoordinates: 23°8′42″N 82°22′54″W / 23.14500°N 82.38167°W / 23.14500; -82.38167
Architectural40 feet
Technical details
Structural systemLoad bearing
MaterialWhite marble
Design and construction
ArchitectFélix Cabarrocas, architect
Known forMonument to the Victims of the USS Maine
USS Maine

The Monument to the Victims of the USS Maine (Spanish: Monumento a las víctimas del Maine) was built in 1925 on the Malecón boulevard at the end of Línea Calle, in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana, Cuba.


LC-DIG-DET-4a05501 (18563506308).jpg

The American battleship Maine exploded in the Havana harbor on February 15, 1898, killing two officers and 250 sailors. Fourteen of the men eventually died, bringing the death toll to a total 266. A board of inquiry concluded that the explosion was caused by a mine placed outside the ship, and the elease of the board’s report led many to accuse Spain of sabotaging the ship, this helped to build public support for the Spanish–American War.[a] Later studies published in 1976, reissued in 1995, concluded that the ship was destroyed from the inside.[1][b]

Built in honor of the American sailors who died in the explosion of USS Maine which served as the pretext for the United States to declare war on Spain. The ship had anchored in Havana harbour for three weeks previously at the request of American Consul Fitzhugh Lee.


Fifteen years after the explosion of the USS Maine in 1913, President of the Cuban Republic Mario García Menocal erected a monument on the Malecón in honor of the victims. The architect Félix Cabarrocas oversaw the construction which began in 1924 and ended in 1925 under the tenure of President Alfredo Zayas. On the day of its inauguration, 8 March 1925, Cuban and American personalities attended the celebation including President Zayas and American General John Pershing.[1] At the base of the monument were placed two canons and a remaining part of the ship’s anchor chain that had been salvaged in 1911. In addition, two 40-foot tall Ionic columns were erected; originally the columns did not hold an eagle. Subsequently, they were crowned with a bronze eagle with open wings, created by Cabarrocas. A bronze plaque reads:“To the Victims of the USS Maine. The people of Cuba”.[2]

The eagle with its wings extended vertically in such a way that a hurricane in October 1926 damaged the monument. The original eagle was replaced in 1926 by one with horizontal wings. The first one is now in the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

President busts[edit]

There were originally three busts of Americans: President William McKinley, who declared war on Spain; Leonard Wood, first military governor in Cuba, and President Theodore Roosevelt. On July 4th, 1943, a fourth bust was added--that of Andrew Summers Rowan, the army officer who was said to have carried a message to General Calixto Garcia just prior to the start of the Spanish-American War.[3]

Partial destruction[edit]

The monument today.
The monument today.

On 18 January 1961, the eagle and busts of the Americans were removed, because it was considered a "symbol of imperialism," The following inscription was later added:

To the victims of the Maine who were sacrificed by the imperialist voracity and their desire to gain control of the island of Cuba
February 1898 – February 1961

(A las víctimas de El Maine que fueron sacrificadas por la voracidad imperialista en su afán de apoderarse de la isla de Cuba.
Febrero 1898 – Febrero 1961

"The eagle was torn down after the triumph of the revolution because it's the symbol of imperialism, the United States, and the revolution ended all that," said Ernesto Moreno, a 77-year-old Havana resident who remembers waking up one day and seeing the statue gone. "I found it to be a very good thing, and I think most Cubans agreed at the time."[4]

Monument restoration[edit]

The eagle's head was later given to Swiss diplomats. It, too, is now in the building of the Embassy of the United States, Havana . The body and the wings are stored in the Havana City History Museum.Th e museum's curator believes that good relations with the U.S. will be symbolized by the reunification of the parts of the eagle. Parts of the monument including the original eagle are today being restored[4]

False flag conspiracy theory[edit]

Source: USS Maine (ACR-1).

The official view in Cuba is that the sinking was a false flag operation conducted by the U.S. Cuban officials argue that the U.S. deliberately sank the ship to create a pretext for military action against Spain. The Maine monument in Havana describes Maine's sailors as "victims sacrificed to the imperialist greed in its fervor to seize control of Cuba",[5] which claims that U.S. agents deliberately blew up their own ship.[6]

Eliades Acosta was the head of the Cuban Communist Party's Committee on Culture and a former director of the José Martí National Library in Havana. He offered the standard Cuban interpretation in an interview to The New York Times, but he adds that "Americans died for the freedom of Cuba, and that should be recognized." [7] This claim has also been made in Russia by Mikhail Khazin, a Russian economist who once ran the cultural section at Komsomolskaya Pravda.[8]

Operation Northwoods was a series of proposals prepared by Pentagon officials for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962, setting out a number of proposed false flag operations that could be blamed on the Cuban Communists in order to rally support against them.[9][10] One of these suggested that a U.S. Navy ship be blown up in Guantanamo Bay deliberately. In an echo of the yellow press headlines of the earlier period, it used the phrase "A 'Remember the Maine' incident".[10][11]

Other USS Maine monuments[edit]

Other monuments to USS Maine are located in the U.S. including: Central Park in New York City; Key West; Arlington National Cemetery; and Annapolis. (See USS Maine: Memorials)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Rickover team analyzed the V shape of the keel. Instead of suggesting an external mine, it indicated that the source of the explosion was solely within the ship." RICKOVER, HOW THE BATTLESHIP MAINE WAS DESTROYED, at 114-115.
  2. ^ "Many ships, including the Maine, had coal bunkers located next to magazines that stored ammunition, gun shells, and gunpowder. Only a bulkhead separated the bunkers from the magazines. If the coal, by spontaneous combustion, overheated, the magazines were at risk of exploding. An investigative board on January 27, 1898, warned the Secretary of the Navy about spontaneous coal fires that could detonate nearby magazines." Allen, Remember the Maine?, at 108.


  1. ^ "Destruction of the Maine (1898)" (PDF). The Law Library of Congress. August 4, 2009. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  2. ^ "Will the eagle return?". Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  3. ^ Rice, Donald Tunnicliff (2016). Cast in Deathless Bronze: Andrew Rowan, the Spanish-American War, and the Origins of American Empire. West Virginia University Press. pp. 271–2. ISBN 978-1-943665-43-3.
  4. ^ a b "Havana restores monument to victims of USS Maine". Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  5. ^ Remembering the Maine, CNN, 15 February 1998
  6. ^ Conner Gorry and David Stanley, "Cuba travel guide", ISBN 978-1-74059-120-1, 3rd edition, 2004, p. 82
  7. ^ "Havana Journal; Remember the Maine? Cubans See an American Plot Continuing to This Day". Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  8. ^ Mikhail Khazin, "In 3 years, most of our oligarchs will go bankrupt", an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, 29 October 2008 (in Russian)
  9. ^ Ruppe, David (1 May 2001). "U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba". ABC News.
  10. ^ a b Weiner, Tim (19 November 1997). "Declassified Papers Show Anti-Castro Ideas Proposed to Kennedy". The New York Times. New York City: NYTC. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 16 February 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  11. ^ Secretariat to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Operation Northwoods" (PDF). Washington D.C. p. 8. Retrieved 22 October 2013.

External links[edit]