The Washington Post
By ANITA SNOW
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."