Florida legislators sure have a lot to worry about. In spite of being one of the most populous states in the union the state is near the bottom in education spending. The state is constantly teetering on the edge of financial ruin and regularly ranks near the bottom on "happiest citizens" type surveys. However, Florida Republicans have decided to focus on more pressing issues, like whether or not Beyonce and Jay-Z celebrating their 5th anniversary in Cuba was legal.
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House Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart penned a letter to the Director of the Treasury Department expressing concern over the duo's recent highly-publicized excursion to Havana. Traveling to Cuba for tourist reasons is illegal under the U.S. embargo of Cuba. Anyone traveling to Cuba must do so under an academic, religious or other such licenses approved by the Treasury. Artists can typically travel under a so-called "creative" license.
To be fair to the Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart, they more than likely are representing their constituencies. South Floridian Cubans are historically very conservative and probably had a lot to do with the pair's election to the US House. This voting bloc has already spoken out against the pair's trip to Cuba as they do not want any American money funneling into the Castro regime (or as the letter puts it ("Cuba's tourism industry is wholly state-controlled; therefore, U.S. dollars spent on Cuban tourism directly fund the machinery of oppression that brutally represses the Cuban people.")
Still you can't help but wonder if maybe their time could be better spent on other pursuits.
Check out the full text of the letter below:
The Honorable Adam J. Szubin
Office of Foreign Assets Control
Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220
Dear Director Szubin:
We write to express concern and to request information regarding the highly publicized trip by U.S. musicians Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (Beyoncé) and Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) to Cuba. We would like to respectfully request, within all applicable rules and guidelines, information regarding the type of license that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel.
As you know, U.S. law expressly prohibits the licensing of financial transactions for "tourist activities" in Cuba (Section 910(b)(1) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act). If these individuals were given people-to-people licenses, we would like to bring to your attention the Cuba Travel Advisory issued by OFAC on July 25, 2011 which states, "OFAC only licenses People-to-People Groups that certify that all participants will have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba." These restrictions are in place because the Cuban dictatorship is one of four U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism with one of the world's most egregious human rights records. Cuba's tourism industry is wholly state-controlled; therefore, U.S. dollars spent on Cuban tourism directly fund the machinery of oppression that brutally represses the Cuban people.
Despite the clear prohibition against tourism in Cuba, numerous press reports described the couple's trip as tourism, and the Castro regime touted it as such in its propaganda. We represent a community of many who have been deeply and personally harmed by the Castro regime's atrocities, including former political prisoners and the families of murdered innocents. The restrictions on tourism travel are common-sense measures meant to prevent U.S. dollars from supporting a murderous regime that opposes U.S. security interests at every turn and which ruthlessly suppresses the most basic liberties of speech, assembly, and belief. We support the Cuban people by refusing to sustain their jailers.
What do you think? Should Beyonce and Jay-Z apologize for their Cuba trip? Are these House Republicans wasting their time?
Sound off in the comments and stick with Mstarz for the latest on Beyonce, Jay-Z and other music news.