News and Facts about Cuba

We need a ‘Dennis Rodman rule’ for celebrities who travel to rogue nations

We need a 'Dennis Rodman rule' for celebrities who to rogue nations

By Mike Gonzalez

Published April 11, 2013

The quiet dignity of Rosa Maria Paya was unmistakable Tuesday as she

asked the international community to pressure Cuba's government into

allowing a plebiscite on democracy and for an investigation into the

murder of her father, leader .

Her poise also offered a sharp contrast to the spectacle unfolding in

her country with a visit there by celebrity Beyonce and rapper Jay-Z.

"It would be nice if the Cuban government were peaceful and respectful,"

she told a crowd at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington,

D.C., "but that's not true because state security of this government

calls my family's house to say 'I'm going to kill you.' They did it

before my father's death and they still do it." She was flanked by

pro-democracy campaigners from left to right and by Washington Post

editorial page editor Fred Hiatt.

"I'm sorry, but things are not nice right now in my country. The Cuban

people are in a real dangerous situation," she said. The international

community must "stop the impunity of the government inside the island."

Oswaldo Paya, a truly audacious dissident who endured decades of threats

and insults against himself and his family, was killed in a car crash

last July 22. The driver, Spanish politician Angel Carromero, says the

car was rear-ended by a state security vehicle chasing them. The Cuban

government denies the charge. Take your pick.

The courage of Cuba's dissidents as they brave incarceration, beatings

and assassination to stand up for what we take for granted in this

country is one of the untold stories of our times. What we are seeing on

our screens, instead, is the disgraceful free propaganda that Beyonce

and her husband Jay-Z are giving to Cuba's tormentors.

If they knew the racism that is practiced on a daily basis against

Cuba's blacks, especially Afro-Cuban dissidents, the couple would have

perhaps thought twice about going to the island nation.

They could, for example, have watched this video released just last week

by the Castro regime to see how the leader of The Ladies in White

dissident movement, Berta Soler, is depicted as an ape just because

she's black.

Or, before donning a Che Guevara T-shirt, Jay-Z might have contemplated

that the great revolutionary once said of blacks, "The n***** is

indolent and lazy, and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the

European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent."

We need a Dennis Rodman Rule, named after the exotic erstwhile

basketball star who went to Pyongyang to fete the Kim Jong Eun

just weeks before the North Korean threatened to blow the world to

smithereens in a fit of pique. The rule should be: celebrities who

disregard the lives of millions by celebrating those who torment them

deserve only our contempt upon their return home.

Our reverence and support should be saved for the Rosa Maria Payas and

Berta Solers of this world. The long-suffering dissidents in Cuba — and

elsewhere — deserve nothing less.

Mike Gonzalez is Vice , Communications, at The Heritage

Foundation. He is a former Bush administration official, Wall Street

Journal editorial writer and foreign correspondent.

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