The Boston Marathon attack and threats from North Korea have shared headlines with Jay-Z and Beyonce Carter’s visit to Cuba.
The media has focused on the legality and political implications of the celebrity couple’s decision to celebrate their wedding anniversary in a country that has a trade embargo with the United States.
“The plight of the Cuban people is a very real issue,” said Justin Borroto, president of Federacion de Estudiantes Cubanos, or the Federation of Cuban Students (FEC). “Whether the Carters were informed about the many problems Cuban citizens and exiles face, they were supporting a Communist government that the U.S. chose to disassociate with.”
Inspired by his trip to the island, Jay-Z recently released a track about his experience called “Open Letter.”
The Treasury Department began investigating how Jay-Z and Beyonce were able to travel to Havana when the embargo bans tourism, according to a report in The New York Times. The article stated that Academic Arrangements Abroad arranged the trip, but the Cuban government was not aware of the trip.
President Barack Obama stated in an interview on “The Today Show” that the White House was not involved with the Carters’ decision, and said he has “better things to do.”
The musical duo interacted with locals and did not meet with any government officials. Andy Gomez, a senior fellow for Cuban Studies at UM, believes that visits like these are not politically charged, but help establish cultural connections between the U.S. and Cuba.
“I think too much has been made out of nothing,” Gomez said. “I particularly favor everyone traveling to Cuba because it gives the Cuban people the opportunity to meet people from outside since they have not been allowed to travel or go anywhere for 54 years.”
Gomez noted that with 65 percent of Cuba being Afro-Cuban, Jay-Z and Beyonce’s visit shows them the success and opportunities available to African Americans in the U.S.
But Nicole Marcos, president of CAUSA: Students United for a Free Cuba, is less optimistic about the couple’s trip and agrees with Borroto. The couple, as American celebrities and supporters of the Obama administration, should not have broken “the laws of their country,” she said.
Hollywood director Phil Lord, the son of a Cuban refugee, published a letter in response to the “Open Letter.” In his letter, Lord shares his disagreement with the trip and lists the many supposed misunderstandings in Jay-Z’s song. Lord spoke at UM Wednesday evening at Shoma Hall in the School of Communication.
Senior Kate Maier, who attended the event, said that a student present at his talk asked him about the letter.
“He said he wrote about it because he was really mad about it at like 6 a.m. and wasn’t sure if he should post it,” Maier said. “He still hasn’t gotten a reply back from Jay-Z.”