Imagine if an American celebrity supercouple chose South Africa–of all the countries in the world–to vacation in the 1980s at the height of the Apartheid era during rampant human and civil rights abuses.
Imagine them staying at hotels reserved only for whites, dining at restaurants that only allow whites, dancing and partying in clubs where only whites are welcomed, and infusing thousands of American dollars into a regime that will only use that money to continue oppressing its people.
And if all that wasn’t enough, imagine the regime covering and touting these celebrities’ every move on state television, showing what a great time they had as a propaganda ploy to distract from its own oppression and undermine dissidents’ efforts to call international attention to their plight.
What would have been the reaction of American politicians? Would the Congressional Black Caucus have remained silent? The same CBC that shepherded the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 that imposed economic sanctions on South Africa for its human and civil rights abuses?
What about Dr. Leon Sullivan, the African-American reverened and civil rights activist? Remember, he conceived the “Sullivan Principles,” which eventually turned into a massive campaign to pressure American corporations against transacting business with South Africa. Would he have condemned those American celebrities for undermining his noble efforts by vacationing in South Africa while its people were continually tormented by that government?
What about the American press? How would they have covered such a visit? Would they have contrasted the celebrities’ posh vacation there with the hardships and persecution the average South African faced on a daily basis? Or, would they have merely regurgitated the propaganda coverage fed to them by the regime’s state media?
The obvious result to an American celebrity couple vacationing in Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s is that there would have been outrage on a massive scale. They would have been excoriated by the American public for their utter disregard and for so arrogantly turning a blind eye to what was going on in that country as they feasted on the backs of those oppressed. In short, they would have probably seen their careers crash and burn–and rightfully so.
Which brings us to the present.
American pop singer Beyonce Knowles and her rapper husband Shawn Corey Carter, better known by his stage name “Jay Z” made headlines over the last week for choosing the Stalinist dictatorship of Cuba as their wedding anniversary vacation venue.
Cuban state media have relentlessly covered the couple clad in flashy 1950s wardrobe as they stroll down the few streets of Old Havana that have actually been kept up for tourists.
Funny how the Cuban regime promotes the whole 1950s throwback imagery when according to them, it was the island’s darkest moments. But I digress.
Meanwhile, as the couple vacations in the dictatorship’s synthetic paradise, the average Cuban is forbidden from stepping into, much less eating at the restaurants where the couple indulges itself, is not allowed to bathe on the white sandy beaches the couple is enjoying, cannot dance at the island’s iconic clubs and cabarets where the couple drink and party, and does not have access to the medical care or facilities reserved only for high ranking government officials, their families, and tourists.
But those are some damn good cigars, aren’t they, “Jay Z?”
In other words, Cuba’s best is reserved only for tourists with hard currency and those Cubans directly connected with the regime. Regular Cubans are relegated to dilapidated housing and squalor. It may not be racial apartheid, but apartheid it is.
But what’s even worse, is that while the regime plays the role of “gracious host” to Beyonce Knowles and Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and feeds those images to a complicit American media to replay, it regularly and systematically beats and imprisons peaceful dissidents, independent journalists and other critics of the regime. Those imprisoned are tormented by their cowardly captors, kept in the worst conditions imaginable, and their families helplessly subject to public “acts of repudiation” and mob violence.
In fact, it wasn’t too long ago when a prominent black Cuban dissident, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, was allowed to die in prison when he went on a hunger strike to protest the repeated beatings and other blatant abuses by Castro’s thug prison guards.
Meanwhile, back home many of the politicians who rightfully fought for sanctions against the Apartheid regime of South Africa just 30 years ago, today openly favor lifting all sanctions against the Stalinist, apartheid Castro regime without precondition. That is, they want Americans to visit and do business with a country that suppresses independent media outlets as a matter of law, a regime that persecutes peaceful dissidents, a tyranny whose bastard constituion forbids opposition political parties, a dictatorship that beats women in the streets and imprisons pro-democracy activists, and a nation divided between wealthy government elites and impoverished citizens reeling from 50+ years of a failed socialist experiment.
But those mojitos are great, aren’t they Beyonce?
I done turned Havana into Atlanta… Boy from the hood… I got White House clearance… Politicians never did shit for me except lie to me, distort history… They wanna give me jail time and a fine. Fine, let me commit a real crime.…Hear the freedom in my speech… Obama said, ‘Chill you gonna get me impeached. You don’t need this shit anyway, chill with me on the beach.
Classy stuff, yo.