An article in your April 8 issue recorded the dismay expressed by Reps. Lou Barletta and Tom Marino knowing that musicians Beyonce and Jay-Z had taken a vacation in Havana, Cuba. The politicians claimed the musicians had violated a U.S. law against tourism in Cuba by U.S. citizens, and Marino added the threat of legal action against them were that the case. Then, on April 14, you printed several of your readers' views about this issue. I would like to take a look at this matter from a somewhat different perspective.
To begin with, the visit had been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department as a legal cultural exchange, no doubt why Beyonce danced with children at a Havana dancing school. And, I want to show why additional comments by Tom Marino reveal that his being wrong about the legality of the visit is the tip of the iceberg of his confusion about Cuba.
Any discussion of Cuba demands an historical context, however brief, and here it is: In 1953, Fidel Castro launched a revolt against the Batista government in Cuba that he saw as tyrannical and as subservient to the U.S. government, U.S. multinationals, and to the Mafia. Then, in 1956, his forces were joined by Che Guevara, and 81 other revolutionaries, who had sailed a yacht from Mexico to Cuba. By 1959, the revolutionaries had driven Batista and his government out of the country and began to build their brand of socialism. During this revolt, most of Cuba's wealthy classes and military leaders were stripped of their assets, their power, and some of them lost their lives. The majority fled to Florida and understandably these refugees were outraged at their treatment. They have retained that anger because they see the economy as a failure and loathe the denial of civil liberties of many Cubans, still in Cuba, charged with being "enemies of the revolution."