Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cuba, Not For Lovers...

I read dozens of news articles every day.  My RSS Feed Reader is in a constant state of updating, leaving me pretty much consistently unable to keep up with the deluge of news and what I like to call "news-esque" articles from across the news and blog spectrum.  Yesterday, as I was perusing the news I came across this article about Beyonce and Jay-Z going to Cuba.  The title of the article is "Republican Lawmakes Seek Details on Beyonce, Jay-Z Cuba Trip".

The short version is that Beyonce and Jay-Z went to Cuba on a trip that coincided with their fifth wedding anniversary.  Americans are not allowed to travel to Cuba for tourism purposes, though restrictions have been eased on licenses for academic, religious, and cultural exchanges.  Americans can travel to Cuba through another country like Mexico or Canada, but we're still prohibited from spending money in Cuba.  The question being asked by Florida representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart is what kind of license did Bey and Jay have to travel and who approved it?

I have a burning question for them too.  Who cares?

Seriously.  The two Florida representatives (Republicans, of course) argue that many of the citizens of Florida are of Cuban descent and they and their families have been harmed by the brutal Castro regime.  I sympathize with those people, but I have to ask: Has the American embargo on Cuba helped?  Think about it.  The embargo on Cuba started about 50 years ago because of Cuba's communist regime.  And can I just point out to Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart that as brutal as the Castro regime has been, the US-backed regime that came before was pretty bad as well.

We have open relations with China and their human rights violations are both documented and flagrant.  But guess what?  We get to have conversations with the Chinese government about human rights issues.  Why do we get to do that?  Because we have open diplomatic relations with China.  The Castro regime may have been brutal and they may have committed atrocities, but by cutting Cuba off from the United States we haven't helped.  And at this point do we still really care about the Communist menace?  There are people in college who were born after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The embargo on Cuba isn't helping anyone.  The best way to positively influence unjust regimes is to stay involved.

The fact that we still have an active embargo on Cuba is ridiculous.  In an increasingly global economy the way to help curtail human rights violations is not to isolate but to embrace.  So, instead of complaining about Beyonce and Jay-Z spending their (possible) tourist dollars in Cuba, maybe Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart should be encouraging the United States to drop the embargo and open up relations with Cuba so that America can actually attempt to do something to help our Cuban brothers and sisters for whom we apparently have tons of sympathy when American celebrities travel to Cuba. 

In the mean time, if Beyonce and Jay-Z's trip is deemed illegal they could face a fine.  I somehow think they'll be able to deal with it.