UPDATE: Drudge Report reporting that several Members of Congress have penned a note to the USG.
For those of us that follow events in a a little island 90 miles from our shores, the news of the week was the Cuba trip of Beyoncé Knowles and Jay-Z. Judging solely from the news reports, the trip may be illegal. Unless they were visiting “close relatives” in Cuba or applied for a U.S. government license, the 5th wedding anniversary visit very well may become somewhat of a legal headache for the couple.
U.S. law prohibits tourism travel to Cuba. Or it at least it should. Any American citizen can visit the island gulag on special trips called “people to people” excursions. These trips are supposed to be very structured and must be pre-approved by the U.S. Government by what is called a specific license.
I’m not interested in promoting travel to Cuba, so I’m not posting any of the companies that offer these special trips; however, you can easily find a lot of them on the Internet. A majority of these junkets are tourist travel. No matter how much they try to tell us otherwise, there is nothing good that comes from these trips that helps the Cuban people. They mostly put money in the Cuban regime’s pockets.
I doubt these two went to Cuba without a specific license of some sort. While visiting Cuba is a dumb idea, celebrities have armies of lawyers at their disposal. You would think one of them would chime in as soon as one of their lawyers learned of this anniversary trip in a Communist paradise?
The legal team would have plenty of specific licenses to choose from including travel that includes public performances, a humanitarian project (with these two, doubtful) and support for the Cuban people (even more doubtful), among others. But does any of this really matter? It does. Read some of our other posts on Cuba travel on this and other blogs.
Generally Americans that visit Cuba are well-meaning folk. Then there are a large number of Americans that solely visit for political voyeurism. A majority of people in Cuba resent these people because while the Americans are living it up in fancy hotels and gobbling food, ordinary Cubans are scrapping by on meager government rations in a crumbling nation. While Americans are free to speak their mind, Cubans are told what they can say and think. There is no freedom of the press. There is no political freedom.
I hope OFAC sends Beyoncé and Jay-Z a letter asking them for more information about the trip. An administrative process would be a nice wedding gift from Uncle Sam. That is the least the American taxpayer can do for them. Just because you are celebrity does not mean you can flaunt U.S. laws by holding an impromtu concert in Havana donning a Che Guevara shirt. What they were doing, at best, is what the folks at the Babalu blog wrote a few days ago: promoting racism.
Let’s end this on a positive note. Not all celebrities are enamored of with the regime. Bono’s tribute to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet (see below). Dr. Biscet has a new video show, Revelando Cuba. Take a look.