Republicans on the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives are moving to end the blatant and illegal practice of tourist junkets to Cuba disguised as “educational” and “cultural” exchanges. With the recent publicity garnered by music stars Beyonce and Jay-Z when they vacationed in Cuba as VIP guests of the repressive apartheid Castro dictatorship, lawmakers are trying to close the loopholes that allow such flagrant disregard for U.S. law and foreign policy.
Appropriations committee responds to Jay-Z, Beyonce Cuba trip
Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee are looking to limit Jay-Z and Beyonce’s travel options.
A spending bill approved on Wednesday by one of the panel’s subcommittees contains a provision that seeks to tighten travel restrictions to Cuba, following the celebrity couples headline making trip the communist country earlier this year.
“This is the Jay-Z, Beyonce Bill,” Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee who opposes the provision, told POLITICO. “Absolutely [it’s a response to the trip], and it’s playing to the audience in Miami” — a reference to opponents of relaxing economic and diplomatic relations with the island country.The provision is part of a larger $17 billion financial services spending bill that funds the operations of several agencies, including the Treasury Department, which approved the cultural trip that included Jay-Z and Beyonce. The department has said it approves the trips based on their itinerary and not the specific travelers.
Panel Republicans said that’s too broad a policy and in response the spending would restrict travel to Cuba to educational exchanges involving academic study related to a degree program. So unless Jay-Z and Beyonce are earning a degree — the Treasury Department wouldn’t have been able to approve their trip.
Their trip “was an example of how the guidelines are not being enforced,” Subcommittee Chairman Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) told POLITICO. “I think that if we’re going to say that we have this policy in place that relates to travel in Cuba that it ought to be enforced and that becomes a grey area where they’re probably not really following the guidelines.”
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And if you are one of those who are still asking: What’s the big deal? Allow Capitol Hill Cubans to put into perspective for you:
Since their inception in 2011, “people-to-people” trips have been nothing more than tourism junkets — complete with Castro regime tour guides, stays at the Cuban military’s luxurious hotels and dining, drinking and dancing at its apparatchik’s restaurants, lounges and nightclubs.
Click here for some examples of these trips.
They are even advertised on Travelzoo and other tourism sites.
Such trips are in contravention of U.S. policy, as codified in law, and even in contrary to the Obama Administration’s own stated goal of promoting the Cuban people’s “independence from the authorities.”