Castro set to give a rare interview

HAVANA: Actor Sean Penn has flown to Cuba to chase what would be the biggest scoop of his career as a part-time journalist: an interview with Fidel Castro.

The Oscar winner, who last year bagged interviews with Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez, is reportedly on assignment for Vanity Fair in his quest to meet Cuba’s former president. In a sign of Havana’s approval, the communist party newspaper, Granma, covered Penn’s visit on Monday to the Island of Youth, where he visited a gallery and met artists.

According to the online magazine, Penn hopes to ask Fidel about Cuba’s evolving relationship with the Obama administration. The interview, which has not been confirmed, would be a coup for the star’s brand of activist journalism. No western journalist has seen, let alone interviewed, the 83-year-old leader since an intestinal illness forced him from public view three years ago. Fidel stepped aside from the presidency but remains influential in Cuba. Penn, an outspoken liberal and anti-war activist, took a break from filming to visit Iraq as a journalist in 2004. He followed up with a visit to Iran the following year and then befriended Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s socialist president, who seldom gives interviews.