This Miami Congresswoman Loves to Pick Fights With Celebrities

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, is like the Azealia Banks of Congress. She always seems to find herself feuding with some celebrity or another. Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Lopez have all found themselves on the other end of a critical Twitter lashing from Ros-Lehtinen. 

Though the congresswoman has good reasons for her beefs. Ros-Lehtinen usually reserves her ire for stars she believes are propping up dictators throughout the globe while ignoring human rights. 

In fact, the member (and former chair) of the powerful House Committee on Foreign Relations has taken it upon herself to become Washington's top voice calling out Hollywood stars who dabble with dictators. Here's just a brief history of her many celebrity feuds. 

This Miami Congresswoman Loves to Pick Fights With Celebrities
Photo via WikiCommons

Juanes 
Date: September 2009
Reason: The Colombian rock star's "Peace Without Borders" concert in Cuba 

Back in 2009, Juanes caused controversy by performing in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución. He wanted to promote peace, but many Cuban expats felt that that the concert would be used as a propaganda by the Communist Party. Some even gathered on Calle Ocho to burn his CDs. 

In an interview with the local Univision station, Ros-Lehtinen criticized Juanes for not mentioning Cuba's human rights record on stage and said the concert was a success for the Castro regime. 

Result: In pre-concert footage, Juanes did seem to lament the strong control the Communist Party exercised over the concert. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez eventually jumped into the fray too, and lambasted Miami's Cuban exile community for burning CDs in a speech in front of the United Nations.

This Miami Congresswoman Loves to Pick Fights With Celebrities
Photo via Idrewuk's Flickr | CC2.0

Beyonce and Jay-Z
Date: April 2013
Reason: The couple's trip to Cuba.

Bey and Jay's 2013 trip to Cuba, which lined up with their fifth wedding anniversary and proceeded an official thaw in relations with Havana, was sure to cause controversy, and Ros-Lehtinen was one of the leading voices of the backlash. She teamed up with fellow Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart to shoot off a letter to the Treasury Department (which handle visas to Cuba) requesting more details on the trip.

Result: Jay-Z replied to the controversy in the best way he knows: a dis track. Though the song, "Open Letter," doesn't mention Ros-Lethinen and Diaz Balart by name, he does rap, "Politicians never did shit for me / Except lie to me, distort history / Wanna give me jail time and a fine / Fine, let me commit a real crime." He later adds, "I'm in Cuba, I love Cubans / This communist talk is so confusing / When it's from China, the very mic that I'm using."

Jennifer Lopez
Date: July 1, 2013
Reason: Lopez singing Happy Birthday to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, the president of Turkmenistan.  

Back in 2013, Lopez was flown to a luxury resort in Avaza, Turkmenistan, to sing for President Berdimuhamedow's 56th birthday. 

"It was our pleasure, and we wish you the very happiest birthday," Lopez said onstage at the conclusion of the event. 

Problem is that Turkmenistan has a deplorable human rights record, and the Human Rights Watch has called it "one of the world's most repressive countries." 

Ros-Lehtinen, then chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, released a blistering statement saying “Ms. Lopez should have used better judgment before performing in a country led by such a repressive regime. These misguided actions send the wrong message to all democracy and freedom-seeking people living under such harsh conditions." Though, the congresswoman wasn't the only person criticizing Lopez. 

Result: Lopez's team ended up issuing an apology.

Mariah Carey 
Date: December 2013
Reason: Taking $1 million to perform for Angolan president Jose Eduardo. 

We all know Mariah Carey doesn't follow J.Lo's career that closely (because she doesn't know her). Ironically, months after Lopez's controversy, Mariah made the same mistake of performing for a controversial dictator who leads a country with a deplorable human rights record.

Once again, Ros-Lehtinen was there to chide her. 

Result: Carey's manager said she would not apologize for the performance.

This Miami Congresswoman Loves to Pick Fights With Celebrities
Photo by Jipsy Castillo

Dennis Rodman
Date: Jan, 2014
Reason: Rodman's trip to North Korea 

Traveling with a reporter for Vice, Rodman went to North Korea to host exhibition basketball games and meet with dictator Kim Jong-un. 

Ros-Lehtinen, of course, was there to blast him via press release. 

"I urge celebrities such as Rodman, Jay-Z and Beyonce to speak out for those who wish to express themselves freely yet are unable to do so because they live under dictatorships," she said in a release. "The presence and engagement of Rodman, Jay-Z and Beyonce with these repressive regimes only provides a gilded patina to decrepit tyrants instead of concentrating on helping those who are oppressed." 

Result: Rodman was investigated for violating U.S. sanctions, but the criticism didn't turn him off the Republican Party. He's since endorsed Donald Trump for president — something Ros-Lehtinen hasn't done.

This Miami Congresswoman Loves to Pick Fights With Celebrities
Photo by Zeroth via WikiCommons

Silvio Rodriguez, Famed Cuban Folk Singer
Date: April 2016
Reason: At a concert in Spain, Rodriguez called for the release of convicted Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes. 

“It is wholly unsurprising that a regime stooge like singer Silvio Rodriguez would lie in order advocate for the release of convicted spy Ana Belen Montes, who is currently serving a 25-year sentence in a U.S. penitentiary in Texas," reads Ros-Lehtinen's statement. "It is documented that Montes committed treason in order to further her own ideological agenda and did serious damage to our nation’s national security by sharing sensitive information with the Castro regime." 

Result: Rodriguez did not apologize

This Miami Congresswoman Loves to Pick Fights With Celebrities
Photo by Siebbi via WikiCommons

Karl Lagerfeld, Creative Director of Chanel 
Date: May 2016
Reason: Chanel's fashion show in Havana 

The House of Chanel made history by hosting the first major international fashion event in Havana this past May, but Ros-Lehtinen had some harsh tweets for the house's famed creative director Karl Lagerfeld. She used the situation to bring attention to the plight of Cuba's Ladies in White. 

Result: Neither Lagerfeld nor Chanel responded to the controversy. The show went on as planned. Vogue Runway gave it a rave review

This Miami Congresswoman Loves to Pick Fights With Celebrities
Image via E! networks

Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kanye, and other assorted Kardashians
Date: May 2016
Reason: The Kardashians filming an episode of their reality show in Cuba 

The Kardashian Klan headed to Cuba last month for a vacation and to film scenes for their show, but the congresswoman wasn't about to let them get off with a free pass. 

This time, she skipped the press release and took the fight directly to the pages of People magazine:

"I know it's cool for celebrities to go to Cuba, but the Cuban people don't experience the glamorous Havana that is featured on social media," South Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. "Far from photo shoots and fruity drinks, everyday Cubans experience a different, sad reality."

"Now, the Kardashians are parachuting into the island to tape their vapid TV show," she added. "Haven't the Cuban people suffered enough?" 

Result: Somehow, Blac Chyna has since overshadowed the Kardashian's entry into international relations. The Kardashians haven't addressed the trip yet, but it will undoubtedly be mentioned on an upcoming episode.  

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