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    Beyoncé and Jay-Z in Havana another calibrated Cuba plot

    Posted on Saturday, 04.06.13

    Beyoncé and Jay-Z in Havana another calibrated Cuba plot

    By Myriam Marquez

    Beyoncé and Jay-Z trotted around their mothers in Havana for the

    couple's fifth anniversary, posing with cute Cuban schoolchildren,

    dining at a famous paladar — the royal couple of hip-hop-pop creating

    the predictable paparazzi buzz and Cuban exile lament.

    The calibrated juxtaposition of BeJay's arrival in La Habana late last

    week with Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez's departure from Little Havana has

    served the regime's propaganda purposes quite well: See, we let Yoani go

    to you. If only the U.S. lifted that silly embargo, you americanos could

    be here, too, spending time with BeJay and company in our island

    paradise of quaint little poor people staring down from their crumbling

    balconies. How Third World chic!

    BeJay's tourist excursion in a forbidden land also picks at that always

    oozing exile scab that Yoani's visit here had started to heal: the

    passions surrounding 52-year U.S. trade embargo of Cuba and the travel ban.

    Under current rules, Americans are banned from traveling to the island

    unless they go as part of a cultural, educational, religious or other

    civil-society-building excursion. The policy in effect has allowed the

    Castro regime to control the itinerary for those groups, hide the

    people's despair and slap an exotic veneer of harmlessness on a 54-year


    Internationally renowned Yoani has argued for removing the regime's

    excuse for all its failures on the embargo by lifting it — but also for

    a responsible, "humanitarian" tourism, one that understands the

    information "blockade" that Cubans face without a free press, one where

    a conscientious visitor will drop off a memory stick, a cell phone, a

    laptop before departing. That's what happened to her when she served as

    a tour guide for Germans visiting Cuba.

    The blogger's support for lifting the travel ban implies that there is

    safety in numbers. If Cuba is flooded with clueless American tourists

    the likes of BeJay, then the "humanitarian" tourist will have less

    chance of getting caught and imprisoned (as USAID subcontractor Alan

    Gross has been since 2009) for providing technology that the regime

    deems to be spyware.

    Nothing happens coincidentally when it comes to Cuba. The regime knows

    when to turn over the tortilla, as they say in Spain, for its benefit.

    So Yoani calls for Cubans on both shores to unite and tweets photos from

    Miami with crooners Willy Chirino and Lissette Alvarez, with actor Andy

    Garcia, and Emilio and Gloria Estefan, all those local Cuban kids done

    good, gone international stars.

    And — poof! — when photos of BeJay's Havana adventure hit the

    twitterverse, the Cuban diplomat in Washington, Jose Cabanas, tsks-tsks

    to a group of foreign and U.S. journalists: "Too much attention has been

    devoted to this lady, taking a lot of attention from the most important

    .?.?. news that has been happening these days in regards to Cuba.

    Including the presence of Beyoncé, the singer, who is today in Havana,

    enjoying a lot of attention from the public, but it's not covered by the

    media — incredible."

    Yes, well, let's ignore "this lady" Yoani, one of the world's most

    talented award-winning writers who's breaking barriers with new

    technology to bust open a totalitarian regime's abuses day after day.

    Let's instead focus on two American celebrities whose knowledge of Cuba

    amounts to mojitos and Cohibas.

    At least Beyoncé and Jay-Z seem more like tontos utiles (useful idiots,

    their star power used by the regime) than star apologists for a

    murderous violator of human rights, a la Danny Glover or Sean Penn.

    Soon to arrive in Miami will be Berta Soler, who now heads the Ladies in

    White, a group of women who have peacefully marched in defense of Cuba's

    political prisoners for a decade now. Perhaps Cuban American rapper

    Pitbull could set Beyoncé and Jay-Z straight about how Cuba's regime

    mistreats Afro Cubans, starting with Berta Soler and her family. Or how

    it beats women who criticize the regime's treatment of blacks like Yris

    Aguilera, who runs the Rosa Parks Movement in Cuba.

    From Havana, the regime will try to incite exile boycotts and protests

    against Beyoncé, who'll be singing in Miami soon — anything to make

    Cuban Americans look as inflexible and dogmatic as the island's masters,

    anything that makes us look like kooks.

    Except the reactionary forces failed to stir exiles against Yoani. She

    was embraced because her insights from Cuba are raw truth. Whatever

    difference of opinion on the embargo or travel ban seems inconsequential

    when weighed against her work (and that of other dissidents like Soler

    and Rosa María Payá) to expose Cuba's reality to the world.

    Still, expect the usual hypocritical skirmishes to continue about an

    embargo so porous that the U.S. now serves as Cuba's biggest supplier of

    food. The local Cuban-American pols will proclaim once again their

    pro-embargo hardline against tyranny even as Cuban-American industry

    barons quietly visit the country of their birth to explore the

    possibilities of a fast-approaching future without the Castros.

    Who's turning the tortilla now?

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