Beyonce and Jay-Z’s Cuban Odyssey

Ben Shapiro is a Senior Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. He is the author of the new book "The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration" (Threshold Editions).


This week, two of Barack Obama’s favorite celebrities, Jay-Z and Beyonce, headed to Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. The two music superstars toured the Communist paradise, heading to romantic Old Havana (they didn’t visit any political prisons), dined at La Guarida (they didn’t redistribute their dinner tips), posing with local schoolkids (who will grow up under political repression), and stopping by a Cuban cigar shop to pick up some gifts for Bill Clinton. Ok, this  last activity is the only one they didn’t do.

They shouldn’t have been in Cuba, either morally or legally.  Under American policy, an embargo covers travel to Cuba, requiring special government permission for journalistic, academic, or humanitarian missions. Simple tourism isn’t on the list. The idea behind the embargo is simple: Americans spending their tourism dollars in Cuba upholds an oppressive regime that continues to impoverish its own people.

But somehow Beyonce and Jay-Z got on the list. As it turns out, the US Treasury Department gave them permission for the “cultural trip.”

No surprise there – Hollywoodites routinely get permission to visit Cuba, even when the rest of us can’t. In 1998, Jack Nicholson headed to Cuba to befriend Castro, and the Joker came away impressed: “He is a genius. We spoke about everything.”

Back in 2001, head of CBS Les Moonves and several of his Hollywood friends headed over to Cuba, where they dined with Fidel Castro and hung out in the sun before heading to jazz clubs in the evening. While the federal government sent them letters about violating the travel ban, nothing was done about it. That same year, Kevin Costner headed over to Cuba to show Castro 13 Days, his film about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Costner promptly called it “an experience of a lifetime.”

In 2002, director Steven Spielberg headed to Cuba, where he dined with Castro. That trip was okayed by the US government for cultural purposes. “It was an opportunity to share his films and his values with the Cuban people,” said Spielberg’s office. Spielberg himself called the meeting “the eight most important hours of my life.”

That same year, Oliver Stone went to Cuba, and then did a 90-minute propaganda documentary on Castro, Comandante. Castro, said Stone, was “very selfless and moral – one of the world’s wisest men.”

It’s significantly more difficult for non-celebs to get to Cuba. That’s because non-royal Americans have to have an actual excuse to head over to the Communist island to bestow our wealth on that unfortunate population. Hollywoodites get special treatment because they are from Hollywood. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Clinton, Bush, or Obama – they are treated with kid gloves because they have the power of the camera behind them.

The problem with that power is that the very folks who wield it do so on behalf of dictators like Castro. It would be too easy to blame Jay-Z and Beyonce’s sunlit trip on their close relationship with President Obama. The truth is deeper: Washington D.C. insiders of both parties are afraid of offending Hollywood bigwigs. That means perks for Tinseltown stars. But more importantly, it means perks for the Communist leadership of Cuba that plays those stars like fish.

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  • MeSoHornish

    The average American can't go but it seems if you are part of the 1% and have friends in high places, nothing is off limits.

  • MeSoHornish

    Conversely, as long as we can get on a jet and fly to communists China, I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to go to Cuba.

  • Nela

    Possible future ending to all this celebrity tourism: When Castro finally proves he is mortal and all the dirt comes out from under the rug, the stuff about the journalists and the opponents in jails, the famine, the lack of medicines etc, all the stuff that we know now but somehow don't assimilate and act upon, then there will be the beating of surgically enhanced breasts and the tearing of hair from the implants. And the protests of "if only we had been aware of" falling from the botoxed lips. Just like what happened when the Ceaucescus went down.

  • Cassandra

    Of course you can go to Cuba, from Canada and Europe. I went there twice , in the seventies and then in the nineties. In the seventies it was a disaster. Line everywhere for food and we met some Cubans who enlightened us on the regime. The food and accommodation were very bad. Lots of funny story to tell though.Communism was very bad for the ordinary people but of course not for the elite. Then I went back in the nineties and things had changed for the tourists . They had nice resorts and the food was great. But police everywhere in Havana. The people were still not free. Go to Cuba and it will disgust you of communism for ever.

    • Mary Sue

      I know people who have gone to Cuba and for the places they let the tourists go, they maintain a pretty impressive facade. Canadians go there often (and Pierre Eliot Trudeau and his sons used to hang out with Fidel Castro on vacation like it ain't no thang) and are brainwashed into thinking Cuba is wonderful.

      Fortunately I had access to a surprisingly candid article in a National Geographic magazine about Cuba, which actually mentioned the fact that all children (around age 10-11) are scooped up and taken to boarding schools that also double as slave labor farms where children pick strawberries, sugar cane, or other agricultural goods in between indoctrination sessions. Their families are only allowed to visit them in the space of a few months. When they turn 14, they get taught how to fire and field-strip an AK-47. I forget which national geographic issue it was but it was from the late 80s/early 90s.

      • trickyblain

        "When they turn 14, they get taught how to fire and field-strip an AK-47."

        What 14 year old wouldn't love that? All the other stuff? Not so much.

        • Mary Sue

          well yeah, but you have to remember, the same people who praise Cuba would shiver in horror at the idea of a child handling an "assault weapon".

  • trickyblain

    Americans can lawfully visit every other nation in the world, including North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Belarus and Burma. After more than 50 years, it's pretty evident the embargo hasn't worked in removing the Castro regime.

    • Mary Sue

      The embargo doesn't work because it doesn't prevent EVERYBODY ELSE from trading with Cuba.

      • trickyblain

        Hey, we agree on something!

        • Mary Sue

          I kinda get tired of hearing from local leftist morons that the embargo is a "blockade" when in fact it isn't. They like to cry that Cuba is short of X Y and Z because of the "embargo". Bull. Everybody else BUT USA trades with Cuba; they could EASILY get these things from those other countries.

          Do people around there try to tell you the embargo is a "blockade" (or equivalent)?

  • Mary Sue

    Jack Nicholson can't handle the truth!

  • hikerdude

    If all those elite Hollywoodites were so enthralled with Cuba , why don't they move there ?
    They could spend the greatest rest of their lives hours in the greatest place they ever visited .

  • κατεργάζομαι

    OBAMA Holly WOODIES.

  • Drew

    Y'all aint nuthin but HATERS !
    http://thepeoplescube.com/peoples-blog/beyonce-ja

  • BS77

    ….Interesting that just yesterday the Coast Guard was rescuing a raft load of Cubans who were trying to escape from the Communist "paradise". People are still trying to get out, while the millionaire leftists keep smoking the Cuban cigars, in Hollywood, of course, and telling us how WONDERFUL it all is. Of course, of course, of course…they would NEVER move there.

  • Max

    These two apes are a perfect example why the word "n""""r" is still in use.