Spanish originals of these articles available here:
Gore Vidal interview in Juventud Rebelde
Rosa Miriam Elizalde: War Prayer
Language is our community
Saul Landau: Gore Vidal in Havana -- Part 1

December 11, 2006

Muses Don’t Bother Me,
My Country’s Politicians Do,
Says Gore Vidal 


Gore Vidal calls things as they are: “Just imagine what the right word would be to describe a political system that has done away with the habeas corpus, violates the rights of its people and trashes the legal rights consecrated by our Constitution. Only one occurs to me: we are living under a dictatorship, imposed in the United States by the current administration.”

One of the most celebrated US writers of the 20th century Gore Vidal spoke with Granma newspaper. Vidal is visiting Cuba along with a group of other noted US personalities from the realm of culture and politics. As we spoke in the Havana park dedicated to slain singer-song writer and peace activist John Lennon, Cuban singer Gerardo Alfonso could be heard in the background playing one of Lennon’s songs at a tribute concert.

Vidal published his first novel, Williwaw, at the age of 21. Ever since, he has not stopped writing with such significant contributions as The City and the Pillar (1948), Dark Green, Bright Red(1950), Julian (1964), Myra Brekinridge (1968), Burr (1973), and more recently The Golden Age (2000). He has also written several important essays, memorable plays and film scripts and even acted in a couple of films including Bob Roberts (1992) and Gattaca (1997).

At 81, Vidal unfurls his words with youthful vigor. I ask him if I can ask a couple of questions to which he answers, “If they are two questions, I can give you four answers. Isn’t that better?

Let me get straight to the point. With your criticism on the policies of the current US administration some people have tried to portray you as a bad American. What’s your comment on this respect?

“It is odd to hear somebody say something like that, because in fact, as things are currently evolving, I actually consider myself as the last good American. At least I am an American who worries for the defense of ethics and the history of my country, to see if we can once again become decent and respected. I dream of and work towards stopping them from snatching away our republic that was once the US, and has collapsed under the current regime.”

After such a long and intense literary career, how do the muses treat you? Do they still visit you?

“In fact I do not pay much attention to them. They never bother me, but my country’s politicians do.

Why are you here in Cuba?  Why now?

“Why not? I am here to see the opposite of what many people are saying is happening here, and I am having a good time.”

Did you ever think about attending a John Lennon tribute concert here in Cuba?

“This was a coincidence that has moved me. I don’t know if you are aware that I was recently interviewed for a film entitled The US Versus John Lennon by David Leaf and John Scheinfield. I said that Lennon was life, the complete opposite of what is represented by people like Hoover, Nixon, Regan and now Mr. Bush, the embodiment of death. Moreover, these types of leaders have been so notorious that they cannot even be considered US citizens. These are truths that have to be said even when they hurt.”

US Visitors Hint Cuba Policy Switch

Havana, Dec 14 (Prensa Latina) Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto called the "conscience" of the US the prestigious writer and essayist Gore Vidal, now visiting the Island with ex [California State] Senate President, John Burton, who "claimed to be very impressed with this visit compared to others."

Minister Prieto termed it "very important that Gore Vidal came to Cuba, not just for its significance from the literary viewpoint but because this writer has become the moral conscience of the US."

"His theory on the coup by George W. Bush and his aides, whom he calls junta, truly enlightens the latest dramatic processes," he said, explaining, "the US is now ruled by a junta of men from the Pentagon and oil-men."

The Cuban minister of culture attended along other Cuban intellectuals a talk with the prolific US writer at Casa de las Americas, in Havana.

Lisandro Otero, president of the Cuban Academy of Language, termed Gore Vidal's presence "an example of US liberal sectors getting closer to lifting the blockade of Cuba."

About possible changes of US hostile anti-Cuba policy, Burton said that "a radical change in the US government may generate changes in US relations with Cuba."

On Gore Vidal's prophecy that the current US president may suffer a Nixon syndrome, the influential politician countered: "who knows."

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Author Gore Vidal in Cuba

«I want to help break the blockade», said the famous US author, playwright, scriptwriter and essayist.

By: Jose Luis Estrada Betancourt


The author of acclaimed books such as The City and the Pillar, Lincoln, Myra Breckinridge and Burr (a novel well known in Cuba), prominent American writer Gore Vidal arrived in Cuba on Sunday, making come true one of his dearest dreams.

Recognized around the planet for his important work as an essayist on politics, history and literature, the 1993 National Book Award winner said that what is most disturbing about the US, where he was born in 1925, is the collapse of the Republic.

As for Cuba, Gore Vidal (his real name is Eugene Luther Gore Vidal) said the United States invaded free Cuba to begin a war against Spain and to take the Philippines from them. Cuba was only a step in reaching Asia.

He also pointed out that the way successive US administrations have governed —by terrorizing the world— deserves the analysis of a psychiatrist rather than a historian.

Asked about which book among his work he would like the Cuban people to read, he mentioned Creation, written in 1981 and published as an extended version in 2002. Creation takes place in the first century before Christ, and tells the story of a man who had the chance to live at the same time as Socrates, Buda, and Confucius – the main thinkers of that era.

December 13th, 2006

Gore Vidal Unafraid of Punishment for Visiting Cuba 

US author receives award at the University of Havana. 

US author Gore Vidal is not afraid of a fine for traveling to Cuba and said Tuesday in Havana that he would actually appreciate being given him the opportunity to sue the government.


“I can also sue, we still have courts. I would welcome an opportunity to perhaps file suit against the government,” said Vidal before participating in a ceremony at the University of Havana where he was given the 270th Anniversary Plaque.

When asked about the fine recently leveled against filmmaker Oliver Stone by the US Treasury Department for visiting Cuba, Vidal answered with irony: “I hope he gives it to charity.”

The writer and historian praised the Cuban authorities and said, “It has been reassuring to see a country doing things well, as should be, while my country is doing things poorly.” (RC).

Cuba Full of Life and Hope, says Gore Vidal

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 on Cuba

Photo: Emilio Herrera

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.

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December 10, 2006 - 02:50:38 GMT

Prominent U.S. intellectual Gore Vidal is visiting Cuba

«I want to help lift the blockade», said the renowned American novelist, playwright, scriptwriter and essayist.

By: José Luis Estrada Betancourt / Photo: Calixto N. Llanes

A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.


Gore VidalWith titles as well received by readers and critics alike as The city and the pillar, Lincoln, Myra Breckinridge and Burr (a novel published in the Island) to his credit, the famous U.S. writer Gore Vidal arrived in Cuba yesterday, fulfilling one of his dearest dreams.

«I had been invited before,» he explained, «but there was always a problem. The last time I lost my knee, and I almost sent it to you -- after all, it's way more interesting than I am -- but finally I'm here, wearing an artificial one and eager to know about the beginning of the end of colonialism in the Western Hemisphere. I thought I should come to help break this unjust 40-year-long blockade».

Also known the world over for his important essays on politics, history and literature, the winner of the 1993 National Book Award refers to the collapse of the Republic as the most disturbing issue about the United States, where he was born in 1925. «To the present administration we lost both the habeas corpus inherited from England and the Magna Carta, and with it the due process of law. As one of the Republic historians, I'm not at all happy about it».

Regarding Cuba, Gore Vidal (his real name is Eugene Luther Gore Vidal) said: «To our shame, the United States invaded free Cuba to start fighting the Spaniards and snatch the Philippines from them. I hate to say it, but Cuba was a steppingstone to Asia, though we always had our sights on the Caribbean. It's always been like that with the rest of the world. The way successive mandates in my country have acted, concluding that terrorizing everybody is the best way to govern, is to be analyzed by a psychiatrist rather than by history».

Asked about which of the books he's written during his long career as a writer he would like the Cubans to read, he mentioned Creation, published in 1981 and then in 2002 in an extended version. «It takes place in the 1st century B.C., when a man who decides to live for 75 years has the chance to spend time with thinkers like Socrates, Buddha, Confucius..., his contemporaries from an epoch when today's ideas first came along. I would promote Creation even if I had not been involved with that novel», he emphasized.


Gore Vidal Slams U.S. Policy on Cuba
The Associated Press
Sunday, December 10, 2006; 10:51 PM

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."

© 2006 The Associated Press

Gore Vidal, Prophet and Rebel

Lisandro Otero - Prensa Latina


A CubaNews Translation
by Sue Ashdown

The United States was perhaps the only nation to emerge victorious from World War I. It entered late and its material costs were far below those of its allies. It emerged however, as an influential power on the world stage.

A victorious Wilson was succeeded by the isolationists Harding and Coolidge, who had assumed the new leadership almost as an embarrassing and undesirable commitment. Hoover's Republican government brought the country to the breaking point with its laissez- faire policies.

Speculators enriched themselves on Wall Street with a spectacular rise in stock market values. In 1929 the bubble burst. The economic depression and unemployment cast a shadow over North American life until Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched the New Deal.

This period produced a generation of intellectuals conscious enough to ask what kind of country they were living in, and so U.S. literature has not lacked for writers committed to social criticism and political analysis.

Edmund Wilson, Susan Sontag, Lionel Trilling, Joan Didion, Arthur Miller, James Baldwin, Norman Mailer and Liilian Hellman have been among the most prominent. But perhaps the one who has practiced it most has been Gore Vidal.

For many years he lived in the Neapolitan coast of Amalfi, in a beautiful cliffside villa named "La Rondinaia," Swallow's Nest, where he accumulated page after written page, consolidating his position as one of the most prestigious intellectuals in his country as well as the world.

Gore came from a high-society family. His grandfather had been a Senator, and in her second marriage, his mother married a rich lawyer and landowner, Hugh D. Auchincloss, who was also Jacqueline Bouvier's stepfather, which made them step-siblings.

When Jacqueline married John F. Kennedy, who came to be the country's president, Vidal was a frequent dinner guest at the White House.

His first novel, "Williwaw" (1946) was based on his experiences in the Second World War, but in the third person. "The City and the Pillar" (1948) dealt with the taboo subject of homosexuality, in an era when it was difficult to discuss and the public didn't tolerate open airing of such thorny subjects.

The rejection provoked by this work forced him to write television scripts for some time, at which he was quite successful.

Undoubtedly, his historical novels about the evolution of the United States were what solidified his position: "Washington D.C." (1967); "Burr" (1974); "1876" (1976) and "Lincoln" (1984) allowed him to offer his readers a vision of the ins and outs of government of recent years through independent epic literature.

In those pages there were affirmations such as: "For the average North American, freedom of expression is simply the freedom to repeat whatever everyone is going around saying, and that's all."

And, "It's always seemed strange to me that a nation whose prosperity is based on the cheap labor of immigrants practices such relentless xenophobia." And more, "There isn't a single mainstream publication in the entire United States that merits the attention of an intelligent man."

Gore Vidal wrote several books of essays in which he developed the thesis that the United States owed its prosperity to the Second World War, which followed twelve years of recession, after which the arms industry magnates came to govern the United States - multiplying their riches through the conflict and deciding that the best way to maintain their interests was to keep the country functioning as the world's policeman and whose finances should be written into a permanent war economy.

John Foster Dulles figured that in a perpetual arms race, the Russians would bankrupt themselves first. Albert Einstein had already taken notice, as early as 1950, that the class leading the United States had no interest in ending the Cold War.

Vidal attributed to Theodore Roosevelt the original thuggish plans to take over Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico, following Alfred Thayer Manhan's theories - taken from British history - which postulate that a country can only be a great power if it has a great military fleet and acquires overseas possessions.

Gore recalled that at that moment, Mark Twain proposed that a new banner be substituted for the flag with stars and stripes - that of a skull and crossbones.

Vidal is one of the United States' most lucid thinkers and his strategic vision of his country as a shipwreck has granted him a reputation for fairness and immense influence in the minds of his fellow citizens.