Cuba is calling. Most people would hang up ASAP—but apparently not Jay-Z and Beyonce. They just got back form a lovely vacation in Cuba. From the many pictures posted online it looks like they had a wonderful time celebrating their fifth anniversary. Beautiful weather, delicious food, romantic strolls on the beach, shopping in the marketplace, touring the city of Havana…
One problem. It is illegal for American citizens to travel to Cuba on tourist trips.
The U.S. Treasury Department has set very specific guidelines for travel to our close southern neighbor. The Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will give out “cultural” licenses for certain trips, and The White House is claiming that the trip was sanctioned, and they played no part in it.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio is not happy, to put it mildly.
“The Cuban government used celebrity couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s recent trip to the country for ‘propaganda purposes’”, Senator Rubio said, “and U.S. law clearly bans tourism to Cuba by American citizens because it provides money to a cruel, repressive and murderous regime.
Since their inception, the Obama administration’s ‘people to people’ cultural exchange programs have been abused by tourists who have no interest in the Cuban people’s freedom and either don’t realize or don’t care that they’re essentially funding the regime’s systematic trampling of people’s human rights.”
Whether or not Jay-Z and Beyonce “bent the rules” here is not what fascinates me. Why on earth would an African American couple travel to a land that is known for being one of the most racist in the world? Black Cubans have less money, less property, are under-represented in government positions and in universities. And they are often excluded from one of the most lucrative sectors in the country – tourism.
Roberto Zurbano, editor of a Cuban publishing house, Casa de las Americas Cultural Center, recently published an article in the New York Times about the current situation for Afro-Cubans, and how racism still runs rampant throughout the country. And in what can only be perceived as “coincidence”, he was let go from his position two days after. Coincidence? Sure.
Do Jay-Z and Beyonce pay any attention to what is going on outside their celebrity bubble? Maybe not. After all, Jay-Z has been spotted more than once wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt.
Written by Debby Wolf