- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 14, 2013

The flap over Beyonce and Jay-Z’s recent trip to Cuba doesn’t seem to be blowing over anytime soon.

As Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, on Sunday called the entertainers’ visit to the communist island “hypocritical,” The Associated Press reported that two other Cuban-American politicians want to know why the Treasury Department approved the trip.

“They’re delivering hard currency to a tyrannical regime who then turns around and uses that to oppress its people,” Mr. Rubio said on CNN.

“I think it’s hypocritical … because they didn’t meet with some of the people that are actually in trouble today. There’s a rapper in Cuba, a hip-hop artist in Cuba who is on a hunger strike and has been persecuted because he has political lyrics in his songs. And I wish they would have met with him. If they wanted to know what was going on in Cuba, they should have met with some of the people that are suffering there,” he said.

U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, both Florida Republicans, wrote in a letter to the Treasury Department that the state’s Cuban-American community has been “deeply and personally harmed by the Castro regime’s atrocities.”

“The restrictions on tourism travel are commonsense 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,” according to the letter.

U.S. citizens can obtain licenses for travel to Cuba for academic, religious, journalistic or cultural exchange trips, but tourism alone is not permitted.

The Treasury Department issued new requirements in May that require travel operators to provide detailed information on trips to Cuba after Mr. Rubio criticized the programs as cover-ups for tourism.

The celebrity couple and friends of the Obamas marked their wedding anniversary earlier this month with a highly publicized dinner and a stroll through the streets of Havana.

After coming under fire from politicians and pundits, Jay-Z responded with a defiant track claiming he had received clearance from the president.

No matter who authorized the travel, Mr. Rubio said it was ill-advised.

“Jay-Z needs to get informed,” he said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “One of his heroes is Che Guevara. Che Guevara was a racist that wrote extensively about the superiority of white Europeans over people of African descent, so he should inform himself on the guy that he’s propping up.”

“The fundamental problem is not Jay-Z and Beyonce,” he said on CNN. “The fundamental problem is that these trips to Cuba are being abused. They are not people-to-people trips. They are tourist trips that are providing hard currency for a dictatorial, tyrannical regime and that’s why these trips need to be carefully scrutinized.”

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