Cuba Full with Life and Hope, says Gore Vidal

Campaign News | Thursday, 14 December 2006

US giant of letters in Havana

Havana, Dec 13 (ACN) Distinguished US writer Gore Vidal described Cuba as a country full of life and hope, as he was honoured with a plaque bestowed by the University of Havana on Tuesday.

During a meeting with students and professors at the University of Havana, Vidal highlighted Cuban health, education and culture programs, calling them “very positive.” He also spoke admirably of the Latin American School of Medicine, with its current enrolment of thousands of youths from a host of nations - including students from the United States.

The US intellectual blasted the militaristic stance of some governments of the world, such as the Bush administration, and criticized the mainstream media for spreading banality and lies.

The award, which the university has granted since 1998, is in recognition of Gore Vidal’s literary, political and historic work marked by strong social commitment.

University Havana President Ruben Zardaya stressed the gestures of friendship and solidarity that the US writer has made towards the island, including this current visit to the island in open defiance of US travel restrictions.

Vidals work includes, twenty novels, five plays, 200 essays and two memoirs.

He was in Cuba accompanied by other American cultural and political figures who included his nephew, Hollywood movie director Burr Steers; American University professor Saul Landau; Dennis Herrera, San Francisco’s district attorney, and Vanity Fair magazine editor Matt Tyrnauer.

Gore Vidal breaks US blockade

Havana, Dec 11 (Prensa Latina) I came to Cuba with my broken knee to help break 40 years of embargo, said US writer Gore Vidal, who will be visiting Havana until December 14, after referring to the distortion of information about the Island by his country s media.

He told Cuban journalists upon his arrival at the Jose Marti international airport that he had been invited several times to come, but the trip was always postponed for one reason or another.

I lost one of my knees the last time and I almost sent my knee to you, and it would have been more interesting than myself, he said ironically, but I have an artificial one, and was able to come here to see the beginning of the end of colonialism in the Western Hemisphere.

Born in 1925, Gore Vidal (81) is used to specifying that he has lived three quarters of the 20th century and a third of US history, the course of which he has assessed in inquiring essays, novels, and interviews characterized by his critical lucidity.

Without hesitation he told Prensa Latina his opinion about the most worrying symptoms of the US future political panorama: The collapse of the Republic. We have lost habeas corpus and the Constitution that we inherited from England 700 years ago. Suddenly, we were robbed of it.

The current regime has done it, and the legal bases of our Republic have gone with it, and as I am one of the historians of that Republic, I am not happy.

Retaking the distortion of the Cuban reality, he said that they never told us why we should hate the Cubans, and in his opinion, his compatriots were motivated by vanity.

At that time, he said, my friend John F. Kennedy was running for president, and about this country, Cuba, he did not agree and turned it into something boosted by vanity.

"When we invaded Cuba [in 1898] it was only a pretext to start the war against Spain and end up taking the Philippines, as we did in the end."

I hate to say it, but you were just a step for the United States to reach Asia, although we always had our eyes on the Caribbean.

He recalled how when World War II had just ended in 1945, US President Harry Truman began to say: "the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming."

With 20 million dead Russians, he said ironically, there was barely anybody to come. Even so, the decision was made: the only way to rule the country is by terrorizing everybody.

A large delegation is accompanying Vidal, including his nephew Burr Steers, a Hollywood film director; Saul Landau, a professor at American University; Dennis Ferrera, San Francisco Attorney General-elect; and Matt Tyrnauer, editor of the magazine Vanity Fair.

One of his closest friends, former Senator James Abourezk; Kimiko Burton, a lawyer from the Attorney General s office, and others are also in the delegation.

The writer of "Homeland and Empire" will fulfill a program in Cuba that includes meetings with Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, Culture Minister Abel Prieto, and Cuban National People s Power Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon.

He will meet, in parallel, with university students and teachers, and will tour the Information Technology University, the Latin American School of Medicine, and the National Fine Arts Museum.

At the airport, he was welcomed by Culture Vice Minister Ismael Gonzalez and Book Institute President Iroel Sanchez.

Gore Vidal Slams U.S. Policy on Cuba

From the Washington Post newspaper

HAVANA - Celebrated American writer Gore Vidal slammed the four-decade-long U.S. trade embargo against Cuba on Sunday, saying during a visit to the island that he hopes recent changes in U.S. politics will help end the sanctions.

"I've never been here before and it's a fascinating country," Vidal said, touring Old Havana. He arrived late Sunday and is scheduled to return to the United States on Thursday

Vidal said the United States is "undergoing tremendous political change," referring to growing opposition to the war in Iraq and the Democratic Party's return to control of both houses of Congress in November midterm elections.

"After more than 40 years, the embargo is ridiculous," said Vidal, who himself ran for Congress and who regularly raises funds for Democratic candidates.

The United States imposed economic and commercial sanctions against Cuba in 1961 after the CIA-backed assault at the Bay of Pigs was defeated. Last month, for the 15th straight year, the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to urge Washington to lift the embargo.

Vidal is to visit museums, a ballet school and other cultural centers during his stay. He also will meet with Culture Minister Abel Prieto and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, among other officials.

American filmmaker Saul Landau, who has produced four documentaries about Cuban President Fidel Castro, was among those in Vidal's small delegation.

Landau said it was unlikely that the group would meet with the ailing 80-year-old leader who ceded power to his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro, earlier this year while he recovers from intestinal surgery.

Vidal, also 80, published his first novel at the age of 21 and has had a prolific career as a playwright, essayist, scriptwriter and novelist.

He recently published his memoirs, "Point to Point Navigation," and a paperback book called "Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta."

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