Monday, April 15, 2013

Jay-Z, Marco Rubio, Cuba, & Me: Rights and Responsibilities

This morning I had the pleasure of appearing on "Good Day New York" (Fox 5 in Manhattan) with Alexis Romay (@ARomay) and Kim Osorio (@KimOsorio1) along with hosts Greg Kelly (@GregKellyFox5) and Rosanna Scotto (@RosannaScotto) to discuss Jay-Z (@S_C_) and Beyoncé's (@Beyonce) recent trip to Cuba.

My two cents was that all Americans should have the right to travel anywhere that they can get a visa and that we should not demand rights for Cubans by taking them away from Americans.  I also pushed back against claims by Senator Marco Rubio that Obama's people-to-people programs needed to be put under the microscope or scaled back. Instead, I advocated for the continuance and even deepening of such academic, religious, and cultural programs as a great way to reach out to and connect with the Cuban people.

Still, I believe that when Americans travel anywhere, the exercise of that right also implies certain ethical responsibilities about the social, political, and economic reality of the country that we travel to. I also indicated that it was wrong for the Cuban government to continue to require that Cubans in the diaspora get permission before traveling back to their homeland.

Rights and responsibilities.

Here's the video:

New York News | NYC Breaking News

I also recommend the following incisive essays on the Jay-Z/Beyoncé trip by Achy Obejas, Phil Lord, and Isabel Kaplan.

Then there are the comments of two very different GOP US Senators, Jeff Flake and Marco Rubio.

Finally, here is a link to Jay-Z's "Open Letter," which had 1,357,331 listens as of tonight!


  1. Interesting juxtaposition, Yoani and Beyoncé/Jay-Z, no solo on El Yuma sino que in the North American news cycle in general. Kind of a catapult effect. Having attended the Revolution Recodified symposium in NY, I can say that Yoani (and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo) provided a rich, dense, nuanced, complex, challenging and inspiringly educational experience, profoundly lacking in the USA. The third greatest effect of the embargo, after causing economic damage to the Cuban people and providing political cover and support to the Cuban government, is the eclipse of information about Cuba in the United States.

    While Yoani's tour offered a wealth and depth of detailed information narrowly targeted at the people most involved in and already aware of and concerned with the issue, Beyoncé and Jay-Z's trip to Havana more overwhelmingly dominated the news cycle, achieving exponentially greater saturation. Even though their involvement in and commitment to the issue of Cuban-American relations is seemingly peripheral, and the coverage of their trip in the media was littered with misinformation, exploitation, and left many media people panting to catch up to be even minimally accurate in their reporting of the convoluted travel restrictions (visa? license? State Department? White House? Treasury Department? tourism? cultural exchange?), the net effect was to elevate the issue of the travel restrictions, the embargo, and Cuban-American relations to a higher level of attention than has been seen in years, precisely at a time when voices on many sides (with the exception of the Embargo-Industrial Complex, its lobby and congressional contingent) are calling for change, especially to the travel restrictions. That was a long sentence.

    Thank you Ted and El Yuma for helping to keep us informed.

  2. Ted,, I forgot to tell you I loved every word you said on the Fox,, you were the only one there having the reality in the hand, the rest were floating cause they dont truly understand Cuban reality,, bravo my friend!!!!! I hope soon they stop the embargo and the regimen will be dissolved into democracy a new sunrise for all the Cubans in the world, all that we want is the freedom for our country and a real democratic system. And I think we are approaching to that day, hopefully Obama take advantage of his last period to do what need to be done,
    Luis C

  3. You were great in the interview. No excessive head movements like the other panelist. Ver
    I agree. American people should have the right to travel wherever they want. Period.
    This Beyonce and JZ trip has been wonderful for the Cuban cause. The controversy made people to think about Cuba (at least two minutes). American people that know very little about Cuba and its problems, now know more.
    It is complex. A dictatorship always it is. Money matters too (remember that this problem of embargo come from the nationalization of American business in Cuba).
    I think that tourism would be good. The cease of the embargo too.
    More money for the government true, but more money for Cuban people too. The houses that rent, the Paladares, the artisans, tobacco makers. More people would be independent, more people will be working in Paladares and no in the government's jobs. And the justification of being a country under attack or embargo will be done.