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Why Beyonce and Jay-Z 's Cuba Trip Made Supporters of the Embargo Go Crazy

The reaction to the superstars' wedding anniversary trip reminds us just how far U.S.-Cuba relations have deviated from what they should be.

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It is time to align our policies with our principles. As President Kennedy said before the Brandenburg Gate at the apex of the Cold War, “Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in.” And as his brother Bobby wrote in a memo to Secretary of State Dean Rusk on December 12, 1963, urging an end to the travel ban, the freedom to travel “is more consistent with our views as a free society and would contrast with such things as the Berlin Wall and communist controls on such travel.”

If Beyonce and Jay-Z visit President Obama in the future, they should remind him that he himself called the embargo an irrational policy that "only hurts the innocent people of Cuba.” At the very least, Obama should listen to a growing group of members of Congress, led by Representative Sam Farr (D-CA), asking him to allow all categories of non-tourist travel to be carried out under a general license. This would remove bureaucratic obstacles that currently prevent many Americans, who are interested in people-to-people engagement, from visiting the island. Interacting with Cuba should not be a privilege exclusive to celebrities.

So thank you, Beyonce and Jay-Z. Welcome to the club of those anathematized and cursed by the McCarthyist embargo supporters. Thank you for your unintended clarion call to the conscience of your fellow citizens about a policy that is irrational, self-defeating, and un-American.

Arturo Lopez-Levy is a PhD Candidate at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies of the University of Denver. You can follow him on Twitter @turylevy.

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