Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Members Send Letter to Beyoncé and Jay-Z
Highlight Human Rights Abuses by Castro Regime

WASHINGTON—Today, Chairman Matt Salmon (AZ-05), Ranking Member Albio Sires (NJ-08), and Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06) of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs sent the following letter to Mr. Shawn Carter and Mrs. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter regarding their recent trip to Cuba. The letter highlights several recent abuses imposed by the Castro regime on the Cuban people, including the wrongful imprisonment of Alan Gross, violence against women, and persecution of political opponents and freedom seekers. The following quotes were released, along with the full text of the letter:

Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s decision to vacation in Havana, Cuba is extremely insensitive to the plight of the Cuban people who constantly live in fear of persecution and violence under the Castro regime. By choosing to visit Havana on what appears to be a tourist trip, Jay-Z and Beyoncé have demonstrated that they are either unaware of or have chosen to ignore the flagrant human rights violations occurring in Cuba.  Jay-Z and Beyoncé should use their significant public platform to advocate for the Cuban people, rather than providing economic benefit to their oppressors.”—Congressman Ron DeSantis (FL-06)

I was exceedingly disappointed this superstar couple would use the power of their notoriety to seemingly condone this brutal regime.  Every year, thousands of Cubans flee the oppression of the Castro government at great personal risk to themselves. I wish Jay-Z and Beyoncé would have taken a moment to realize that their vacation would be used by the Castro regime as a propaganda tool. They had a prime opportunity to stand up for human rights and freedom in a regime that stones women who seek the right to free speech.  I hope they will change their tune and support the people of Cuba.”—Chairman Matt Salmon (AZ-05)

Unfortunately, the visit by Mr. and Mrs. Carter simply exalts a regime whose oppression and human rights violations know no bounds.”—Ranking Member Albio Sires (NJ-08)

 

Full Text of Letter:

April 9, 2013

Dear Mr. Shawn Carter and Mrs. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter,

We are writing to express our deep concerns over the precedent and implications of your trip to Havana, Cuba.   As you are aware, the U.S. maintains strict travel bans to this Caribbean island, not as a punishment to the Cuban people, but as a matter of solidarity for all those who are living under the oppressive Castro regime.  While you were touring the island on a well-publicized holiday, were you aware of the following pervasive human rights violations? 

1.      The wrongful imprisonment of USAID contractor Alan Gross since 2009, who was merely helping the small Cuban Jewish community access the internet. [1]

2.      The oppressive use of violence against women, in particular the Ladies in White for their demand for Freedom of Speech. [2][3]

3.      The defection of ballet dancers seeking artistic freedom without limitation and fear of persecution. [4]

4.      The attempted censorship and suppression of Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez. [5]

5.      The ever increasing number of political prisoners being held for expressing views opposing the Castro regimes reign. [6]

 

These are just a few examples of the Castro government’s oppression and the dire living conditions faced by the Cuban people.  The list of human rights violations demonstrates that this is an organized and systematic oppression of Cuban nationals.  Regardless of your intentions, your visit will clearly be used by the Castro regime as a propaganda tool.  We are deeply disappointed with your decision to holiday on the island and thereby seeming to condone this oppression.  It is important to note that tourism to Cuba does not benefit the Cuban economy or people, but the Castro regime.  We sincerely hope that you will reevaluate your decision and distance yourselves from this repressive regime and instead stand on the side of the Cuban people who seek freedom and access to basic human rights protections and economic opportunity. 

A link to the signed letter is found here.

Chairman Matt Salmon (AZ-05) serves on the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere along with Ranking Member Albio Sires (NJ-0) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06). This subcommittee has jurisdiction, among many, over matters affecting the political relations between the United States and other countries and regions, including Cuba. Please visit http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/ for more information about the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.