By Greg Gilman | Reuters – Fri, Apr 12, 2013
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Jay-Z responded to critics of his Cuba trip
with a song called "Open Letter" and now "21 Jump Street" director Phil
Lord has responded to the song with an open letter of his own, blasting
the rapper for "being a bad artist."
Although Jay-Z's Cuban excursion with his wife, Beyoncé, and both their
mothers was approved by the U.S. Treasury Department, Lord - the son of
a Cuban refugee - told the Huffington Post that the rapper's newest
single upset him to the point where he had to speak his mind.
Read the entire letter below:
An Open Letter to Jay-Z
Dear Mr. Z,
I just heard your new track, "Open Letter," released today. It's got
everything I love about your music: looping internal rhymes, an
infectious beat, and imagery that draws me into a kind of swaggering,
Speaking of defiant fantasies, I've been following news of your recent
trip to the island nation of Cuba. As the son of a Cuban refugee, and
cousin and nephew to many Cubans on the island, I cringe when Americans
visit Cuba for a fun island vacation. For one thing it's illegal (which
nobody seems to care about), but more importantly, it's either ignorant
of or calloused to the struggles of Cubans on the island. I actually
encourage my friends to travel to Cuba, to bear witness to one of the
great tragedies of our time, to learn about the real Cuba, to put a
human face on the caricature of Americans that the Castros propagate.
Exchange and travel between our two nations should be a catalyst for
change, as it has been even in my own family. But for me, Cuba is not
the place to have a fun, sexy, vacation. Because for Cubans on the
island and living elsewhere, it's not.
So when I heard of your visit, I thought to myself, Jay Z seems like a
smart, thoughtful guy. He doesn't realize what he's walking into. He
probably just thinks Cuba is a chic place to relax with the family. He
probably just doesn't know the things I know.
He likely doesn't know that the Cuban tourism industry is run by the
Cuban military, so when he spends money at an officially sanctioned
hotel, or restaurant, he is directly funding the oppressors of the Cuban
He doesn't know that most Cubans have poor access to independent news
sources, the internet, books, and food.
He doesn't know that Cuba has two health systems, one for the
well-connected, and one for everyone else.
He doesn't know that before Castro, the Cuban peso traded one-to-one
with the dollar, and that since then, the Castros have raided the
nation's coffers and introduced widespread poverty to a once prosperous
He doesn't know that my ancestors fought to free Cuba from Spain, and to
set up a democracy to ensure that they would always be free.
He doesn't know that in spite of those dreams, my mother and her family
fled for their lives from this regime way back in 1960, as did *two
million* other Cubans.
He doesn't know about the thousands of people executed by firing squads
led by sexy t-shirt icon Che Guevara.
He doesn't know about the dissidents, artists, and librarians that
currently rot in Cuba's prisons, and the thousands more who live in fear.
He doesn't know about Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an Afro-Cuban dissident who
died in a Cuban prison in 2010 after an 80-day hunger strike.
He doesn't know that a U.S. Citizen, Alan Gross, is currently serving a
15-year sentence in a Cuban prison for providing phones and computers to
the members of the Cuban Jewish community.
He doesn't know that all attempts by our government and private citizens
to secure his release have been scoffed at.
He has likely forgotten about all those who have died in the Florida
Straits, trying to float on makeshift boats to freedom.
He doesn't know that contrary to popular understanding, Amnesty
International reports that repression of dissidents in Cuba is actually
on the rise.
He doesn't know that when an international music luminary shows up in
Cuba, his presence is unwittingly used as propaganda to support the regime.
He doesn't know that artists in Cuba, with whom he was supposedly having
a cultural exchange, serve under the close supervision of the
government, and don't enjoy the freedom to defiantly name check the
President, call out a few senators, threaten to buy a kilo of cocaine
just to spite the government, or suggest that they will follow up their
purchase with a shooting spree, as rapped about in "Open Letter."
He doesn't know that just because our country applies a different, some
say hypocritical policy to China, it doesn't make either regime any less
oppressive, or any more acceptable.
He doesn't know that when people say "I've got to visit Cuba before it
gets ruined," I think to myself, "It's already ruined. And by the way,
ruined by what? freedom of speech? walls that don't crumble? shoes? Do
you mean ruin Cuba? Or ruin your fashionable vacation in Cuba?"
He doesn't know that when I really start to think about all this, I get
so mad I can't sleep.
He doesn't know that when he's wearing that hat, smoking that coveted
contraband cigar, he looks like a dupe.
He doesn't know how much good he could be doing in Cuba, for Cubans,
instead. Bearing witness, supporting artistic freedom, listening.
He doesn't realize that as someone privileged to be born in a free
society, one in which someone could come from nothing and become a
celebrated music, sports, fashion, business and political mogul, it's
not only his good luck to be able to bring to light the needs of the
less fortunate, it's his obligation.
But then, Jay-Z, I heard your new song, and paid attention to the lyrics.
I heard you bragging about your "White House clearance."
I heard you talk about how much you enjoy Cuban cigars.
And I heard you tell the President I voted for, "You don't need this
shit anyway, chill with me on the beach."
You reject the responsibility to speak up for an oppressed people, even
while you take up your own cause with gusto.
Then I figured it out.
You actually know all of this stuff, you just don't care.
That's not just being a bad citizen, or a bad neighbor.
It's being a bad artist.
It's Nihilism with a beat.
http://news.yahoo.com/jay-z-blasted-21-jump-street-director-over-202918787.html;_ylt=A2KJ2PZacWpRjHwAcrjQtDMD Continue reading
Published April 08, 2013
It appears that Jay-Z and Beyoncé's trip to Cuba is above board after
all. That's at least what Reuters is reporting, citing a source close to
The two music stars were in Cuba last week, where they toured Old
Havana, posed for pictures with local schoolchildren and dined at the
renowned restaurant La Guarida. The trip also sparked the interest of
two Republican congressman from Florida who questioned what kind of
license – or special permission – allowed them visit to the island.
Traveling to Cuba is technically not illegal, but the United States does
prohibit its citizens from spending money in Cuba without the proper
While it's true that travel to Cuba has gotten a whole lot easier due to
easing of travel restrictions for Americans, travelers must take part
in tours to Cuba that encourage "people to people" contact. There are
exceptions for students, journalists, Cuban-Americans and others with
legal reasons to travel there.
Getting caught can result in 10 years in prison and $250,000 in
While most people's trips won't garner the public scrutiny of Jay-Z and
Beyoncé, here are some ways you might still catch some heat if you don't
follow the rules.
1. Don't Get a License
You can't simply book a flight and a hotel and head to Cuba. To get
into the country legally, you need to travel with a Cuba travel
organization that has an official license from the U.S. State Department
Americans. There are about a dozen of these licensed organizations now.
2. Hang Out On The Beach
Tourist activities -- like visiting the beach or scuba diving -- are
prohibited from itineraries. According to Treasury Department
guidelines: "Each traveler must have a full-time schedule of educational
exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between
the travelers and individuals in Cuba." This means your days will be
spent going to museums, a hospital or a local Communist Party block meeting.
3. Purchase Tickets From a Local Travel Agent
You can find anything on the Internet, including contact details for a
local agent who will be more than happy to sell you a ticket directly --
by cash. Also, there are other third party agents that arrange travel
to Cuba, usually through a third country. (By the way, the Cuban customs
and immigration officials know not to stamp the passports of Americans
entering the country.) You can do the same if you want to book a hotel
room or a car.
4. Ignore the U.S. government if it comes a calling
Say you're busted by U.S. customs official when bringing something back
to the U.S. that you bought in Cuba. If you get a questionnaire from
Treasury Department's office, which oversees financial dealings with
Cuba asking for details –ignore it. That's what happed to Zachary
Sander. After a protracted to and from in which Sanders sued the U.S.
government, he finally agreed to settle the case and pay a fine of $6500."
http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2013/04/08/how-to-get-in-trouble-traveling-to-cuba/ Continue reading
Papas y puñetazos
Friday, February 18, 2011 | Por Jorge Olivera Castillo
LA HABANA, Cuba, febrero (www.cubanet.org) – Por estos días se reedita
en los barrios de Ciudad de La Habana el carnaval de la grosería y el
fastidio. Las actitudes torcidas se hacen visibles en el mostrador del
agro mercado estatal.
Apiladas en… Continue reading
Cuba, Now: The Word You Need to Know for Edible Food is 'Paladares'
February 17, 2011 at 10:15 AM | by femmefatale | Comments (0)
With President Obama working to lessen Cuba Travel restrictions, the
focus on future trips to the country is growing wildly. A Jaunted
special secret correspondent just returned from a… Continue reading
Posted on Thursday, 02.17.11
Vegetarians push soy, but Cubans prefer pork
By JENNY BARCHFIELD
HAVANA — Juicy hamburgers and sandwiches stuffed thick with sausage
aren't your typical vegetarian fare – but that's what is on the menu at
El Carmelo, a state-run restaurant that promoted healthy, meat-free eating.
"Meat-free" is not a phrase that… Continue reading
Publicado el jueves, 02.17.11
Vida dura para los vegetarianos en Cuba
Por JENNY BARCHFIELD
The Associated Press
LA HABANA — Jugosas hamburguesas y sándwiches con salchichas no son
platos típicos de la comida vegetariana, pero eso ofrece el menu de El
Carmelo, un restaurante estatal que quería promover una alimentación
saludable, sin carne.
La cocina vegetariana,… Continue reading
Deregulation of food distribution taking shape
In another step towards deregulation of food distribution and creation
of a de facto wholesale market to supply ailing private businesses at
non-convertible peso prices, the government is allowing sugar and
imported rice to be sold on "parallel food markets" at regulated
non-convertible peso (CUP) prices.
According to resolution 21/11… Continue reading
"13 February 2011 Last updated at 00:44 GMT
Cuba cuts sugar price subsidies
A Cuban cuts sugar cane, file picture April 1999 Sugar is the mainstay
of Cuba's agricultural economy
Cuba's communist government says it is liberalising the sale of sugar,
after decades of subsidising its price.
It is the latest step in President Raul Castro's… Continue reading
Cuba recorta las subvenciones al precio del azúcar
Domingo, 13 de Febrero de 2011 – 7:30 h.
LA HABANA, 13 (EUROPA PRESS)
El presidente cubano, Raúl Castro, ha anunciado que el Gobierno de la
isla recortará las subvenciones al precio del azúcar con la intención de
liberalizar la venta de este producto y reducir el papel… Continue reading
Auditorías e inspecciones en cafeterías habaneras
LA HABANA, Cuba, 24 de noviembre (Aini Martin Valero, PD /
www.cubanet.org) –Muchas cafeterías y restaurantes en toda la Ciudad de
La Habana permanecieron cerrados al público durante el pasado fin de
semana, debido a la realización de auditorías e inspecciones, por parte
de inspectores gubernamentales.
Según fuentes del… Continue reading
Reabre emblemática paladar habanera
Se puede comer de nuevo en el viejo apartamento donde vivía "Diego", el
personaje homosexual de la cinta Fresa y chocolate
Agencias, Madrid | 18/11/2010
Enclavada en un derruido edificio de un popular barrio de La Habana, La
Guarida, la famosa "paladar" cubana donde se rodó Fresa y chocolate,
reabrió sus… Continue reading
INCREMENTO DE PÉRDIDAS GASTRONÓMICAS POR DETERIORO DE ALIMENTOS
Yosvani Anzardo Hernández
Periodista Independiente, Director del Periódico Digital Candonga
(www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- Holguín, 18 de noviembre. Candonga. Según
informes de especialistas del Ministerio de Comercio Interior, en todo
el país se reportan incrementos en la destrucción de alimentos
perecederos que dejaron de ser actos para el… Continue reading
Menos comida gratis y más trabajo: Raúl Castro desmonta subsidios en Cuba
10 de Noviembre de 2010 • 14:49hs
Libreta de abastecimiento, comedores y transporte obrero, garantías de
cesantía y otros subsidios que prevalecieron en medio siglo desde la
revolución pasarán a la historia en Cuba cuando se apruebe el modelo de
reformas al socialismo que… Continue reading
Barrio Chino invadido por aguas albañales
LA HABANA, Cuba, 13 de octubre (Carlos Ríos / www.cubanet.org) – En el
Barrio Chino de esta ciudad, a la altura de la calle Rayo, las aguas
albañales corren como río desbordado, al extremo que varios restaurantes
y tiendas recaudadoras de divisas cerraron sus puertas por orden de los… Continue reading
El régimen castrista paraliza las inversiones sociales
Elías Amor, Economista ULC
Las autoridades cubanas se han empeñado en conducir a la economía de la
Isla hacia un nuevo modelo de gestión privada de la propiedad estatal,
con la eliminación masiva de puestos de trabajo en numerosas actividades
financiadas por el estado.
Y esta vía asombrosa,… Continue reading