Reading through the news coverage these past few days of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s ill-advised and thoroughly offensive vacation in Cuba as guests of the apartheid Castro dictatorship, much of the concern centers around the legality of their trip to the communist island. That is certainly an important point since it is illegal for American citizens to visit Cuba as tourists, even if you are personal friends of President Obama. But what I personally find most troubling about this scandalous act by American music’s most prominent couple is their complete and utter insensitivity to the repression and brutality suffered by the Cuban people — the majority of them black — at the hands of the tyrannical Castro dictatorship. By “vacationing” on an island as guests of its oppressive apartheid regime as if they were just visiting any other destination, Beyonce and Jay-Z are in effect telling America, the world, and most cruelly, Cuba’s enslaved people, that they tacitly approve of the island’s brutal and racist regime.
Naturally, the Castro dictatorship sees Beyonce and Jay-Z’s visit as a propaganda opportunity to portray themselves as something other than a repressive tyranny. That is why they have heavily promoted this vacation, releasing photos of the power couple enjoying the sights and luxuries of Cuba, but making sure they leave out the fact that those amenities are denied to typical Cubans. All the public sees is two very rich and very powerful Americans enjoying a Caribbean getaway. The beatings of dissidents, the stoning of families opposed to the Castro dictatorship, and their violent arrests and imprisonment is conveniently left out of the press releases and news reports. The news then becomes simply Beyonce and Jay-Z enjoying a tropical vacation at a tropical destination.
Whether knowingly or out of embarrassingly irreverent ignorance, Beyonce and Jay-Z have now become the unpaid spokespersons, the poster children, the ambassadors of goodwill for the apartheid Castro government. A violently racist regime that is without equal the Western Hemisphere’s bloodiest and most murderous dictatorship for more than half a century. To me, that is the most disturbing thing of all.
This reality, however, is not apparent to everyone. There have been some who see nothing intrinsically wrong with Beyonce and Jay-Z vacationing in apartheid Cuba. They are artists, they say, not politicians. Unfortunately, those who think this is the case are woefully uninformed about the way the Castro dictatorship in Cuba operates. The decision to make Beyonce and Jay-Z the regime’s spokespersons for tourism does not rest with them, but with the regime itself. Once you allow yourself to become their guests, as Beyonce and Jay-Z have done, you come under their control and they own everything you say and do while on the island. Every move made and every word uttered by the couple and their American companions is recorded and archived for future use. Even their hotel room is bugged and hidden video cameras are everywhere. In essence, once you put yourself in the hands of the Castro dictatorship, they own you.
That is why we will continue to see photos of the couple having a great time in Cuba, and that is why the following video of Beyonce dancing salsa in Cuba is available for all to see: