On visit to Cuba Gore Vidal links the war in Iraq with the Spanish-American War

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After 9/11, George Bush began firing fear-loaded spitballs at Congress and the media, which reacted by being frightened. Five years and three months later, Gore Vidal in Havana countered W’s discords of panic with chimes of truth.

On December 12, at the University of Havana, Vidal dismissed “our little President” (“presidentcito,” said the interpreter) and mocked him into proper perspective – the worst and most dangerous president in US history: “I’m a wartime president.” The audience of students and professors laughed at Vidal’s imitation.

Three days before, on the evening of December 9, Culture Vice Minister Ismael Gonzalez and Book Institute President Iroel Sanchez greeted met Vidal at the Jose Marti International Airport. His entourage included former South Dakota Senator James Abourezk (D) and former President of the California Senate, John Burton (D) as well as San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, myself and a small group of Gore’s friends and admirers. The Cuban press quickly grabbed him.

“What brings you to Cuba?” a Prensa Latina reporter inquired.

“I came to Cuba with my broken knee to help break 40 years of embargo.” He had not accepted previous invitations because “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.”

A few reporters giggled. “But I have an artificial one,” Vidal became serious, “and could come here to see the beginning of the end of colonialism in the Western Hemisphere.”

He told the media that he “worried about 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.”

How did he see Cuban reality as opposed to what the US government reported? “They never told us why we should hate the Cubans. I think Kennedy and his compatriots were motivated [in their aggressive anti-Castro policies] by vanity.” He said, “My friend John F. Kennedy was running for president,” (1960) and he foolishly allowed the CIA’s Bay of Pigs invasion to take place. “Vanity has played a large role in the relationship,” he added, referring to the terrorist war aged by the brothers Kennedy against Cuba after the April 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Vidal paused and jumped backward in time. “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.” The Cuban reporters taped and wrote. “I hate to say it,” Vidal continued with a smile, “but you were just a step for the United States to reach Asia, although we always had our eyes on the Caribbean.”

Vidal the historian recalled how after World War II, Harry Truman began to say: “‘the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.’” At the onset of the Cold War, the Russians having suffered 20 million dead, “there was barely anybody to come. Even so, the decision was made: the only way to rule the country is by terrorizing everybody. Bush is trying it – with some success.”...

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