Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s Trip to Cuba and the Embargo

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Sandra Guzmán (CNN Opinion) writes about (CNN) Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s trip to Cuba, stating that their trip “isn’t the problem, the embargo is.” Here are excerpts:

When does a romantic anniversary trip with your hubby to celebrate five years of marital bliss become an international kerfuffle, complete with calls for you to be prosecuted for treason? Well, when it’s Cuba, where Americans are banned from traveling to for tourism, thanks to one of the most enduring embargoes in the history of mankind. Yesterday, Beyoncé stopped by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and confessed the outcry over her and Jay Z’s trip to Havana was “quite shocking.” Welcome to the land of cray cray, Bey.

Emotions run deep, high, and very bizarre when it comes to the subject of Cuba. When photos of the celebrity couple strolling Havana were released, a political tumult of epic proportions erupted in Florida. Sen. Marco Rubio and a small band of conservative Cuban-American politicos released a statement vociferously demanding an investigation of the trip by the president and the Treasury Department. [. . .]

In 1995, I won an Emmy for producing a show that explored the Cuban embargo. What was special about the program, “Embargo Contra Cuba,” was that it gave an opportunity for the many different opinions in the Cuban debate to be heard. The voices of everyday Cuban families caught in the quagmire of policies that make their family members the “enemy” were allowed to surface. These are the folks — cubanos to the core — who will tell you, if they had a mic and a safe forum, that the current U.S. policy is stupid. [. . .] Cuba policy is steeped in dysfunction on both sides. Last week, the State Department denied Fidel Castro’s niece Mariela Castro a visa to travel to Philadelphia to receive an award for her gay activism, no reason given. A State Department official said visa applications are confidential.

Fifty-one years into the policy, another Castro is in power and the island is still communist. The U.S. still trades with communist China despite its human rights violations. The U.S. still trades with communist Vietnam. We, the hip-hop generation, see right through the political hypocrisy and we want change.

There are some bright lights in Congress giving hope. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor held a news conference after visiting Cuba on a three-day fact-finding trip recently. The Tampa Democrat announced that she found the island has made economic reforms and called for the United States to promote these positive changes. Castor is part of a new group of audacious politicians, some from Florida, who are pushing to normalize relations and bring constructive dialogue with Cuba.

Obama stands to make history by using his pulpit to encourage a more sensible dialogue around a Cuba policy that has been futile. I doubt that he’ll step into this issue willingly. It will take gigantic political cojones to do so and on Cuba, sadly, the president hasn’t expressed a willingness to “go there.” The best hope for sanity rests on the voices of reasonable Americans and Cuban-Americans to demand change. Real democratic progress in Cuba will happen when the gates of travel are opened. You want democratic transformation in Cuba? There’s nothing more compelling than a bunch of celebrities sporting Prada bags in one hand and smoking puros in the other to inspire revolutions of capitalistic proportions.

Sandra Guzmán is an award winning journalist, blogger, media consultant, and author of, The New Latina’s Bible: The Modern Latina’s Guide to Love, Spirituality, Family & La Vida. For more information, see her blog at www.sandraguzman.com

For full article, see http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/07/opinion/guzman-beyonce-jay-z-cuba/?hpt=hp_bn7

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