South Floridians React to Jay-Z and Beyoncé Trip to Cuba

Some support trip to Cuba as Florida lawmakers demand answers

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    TK
    AP
    U.S. singer Beyonce and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, are surrounded by body guards as they tour Old Havana in Cuba, Thursday, April 4, 2013. R&B's power couple is in Havana on their fifth wedding anniversary.

    The Cuba tour taken by music superstars Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z has Florida lawmakers raising eyebrows but some South Floridians are showing their support for the recent trip.

    “I think Jay-z and Beyoncé’s vacation to Cuba kinda reflects where the mind-set is for most Americans now-a-days and reflects kind of an attitude to more openness," Yamil Rivera said.

    But U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says she’s concerned. 

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    “I realize that Jay-Z and Beyoncé are superstars, multi-millionaires, but how shameful, how regretful that they are parading around in Cuba like the famous phrase 'useful idiots' trying to look like everything is normal in Cuba," Ros-Lehtinen told NBC 6 South Florida.

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    The couple was mobbed by fans and photographers last week as they celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary in the Communist nation. They walked the streets, waved at fans and took pictures as they walked the streets of Havana.

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    But since current U.S. law bans U.S. tourism to Cuba, U.S. Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart are looking into who approved this high-profile trip.

    Reuters is reporting the visit was licensed by U.S. Treasury Department on a "cultural exchange," the only way Americans can legally travel there in light of the 51-year-old trade embargo between the two countries.

    “As an American I like to support principles but I’m kinda in between, so good for them," South Floridian Juan Gomez said.

    Their Havana getaway was all happening the same week famous Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez visited Miami to talk about the human rights abuses and lack of basic freedoms in the Communist-ruled island.

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    “They’re just parading around Cuba as tourists making it appear that going to Cuba is like going to France, well it is not," Ros-Lehtinen said. "Cuba is a jail where people literally die to get out of there."

    Sen. Marco Rubio is also questioning whether the pair were educating themselves or visiting as tourists.

    "According to recent news reports, Jay-Z and Beyoncé's Cuba trip, which the regime seized on for propaganda purposes, was fully licensed by the Treasury Department. If true, the Obama administration should explain exactly how trips like these comply with U.S. law and regulations governing travel to Cuba," Rubio's office said in a statement Monday.

    But not all South Floridians agreed that the trip was a bad thing.

    "I think that what really will eventually help the island is to open the avenues of communication and tourism just like the rest of the world is doing," said Rivera.

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