April 6th, 2013
04:49 PM ET
2 years ago

Lawmakers ask why Beyoncé and Jay-Z went to Cuba

(CNN) – Two Republican lawmakers are asking a government agency to look into a recent trip to Cuba by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, suggesting the superstar couple violated restrictions on travel to the communist island.

“Despite the clear prohibition against tourism in Cuba, numerous press reports described the couple’s trip as tourism, and the Castro regime touted it as such in its propaganda,” Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, both of Florida, wrote in the letter to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z were photographed in Havana last week, apparently celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary on the island. While Cuba was a popular getaway for Americans in the 1950s, spending money there was outlawed after Fidel Castro took power in 1959.

In 2012 the Obama administration lifted some of the restrictions on travel to Cuba, instituting a “people-to-people” travel program that requires a strict itinerary for vacationers.

"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," U.S. Treasury Department guidelines read.

Asked about Beyoncé's and Jay-Z's recent trip, Treasury Department Spokesman John Sullivan said only "I can't comment on specific licenses."

Americans have been known to get around travel restrictions to Cuba in the past by stopping first in a country with flights to the island. Cuban customs officials are familiar enough with the practice to not stamp American passports when they cross their desks.

In their letter the Treasury Department, Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart noted their connection to “a community of many who have been deeply and personally harmed by the Castro regime’s atrocities, including former political prisoners and the families of murdered innocents.”

“The restrictions on tourism travel are common-sense measures meant to prevent U.S. dollars from supporting a murderous regime that opposes U.S. security interests at every turn and which ruthlessly suppresses the most basic liberties of speech, assembly, and belief,” they wrote. “We support the Cuban people by refusing to sustain their jailers.”

Other lawmakers held different views, such as Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.

"So, @Beyonce and Jay-Z @S_C_ are in Cuba? Fine by me. Every American should have the right to travel there," he wrote on Twitter.

– CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report.


Filed under: Cuba
soundoff (525 Responses)
  1. Catmandew

    They are friends of the Obamas so they can just do as they please. It is the Obama way of doin business spoils to his friends and nothing to the rest of us who are payin him far too much considering his job performance!

    April 6, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Wouldn't it be weird to see a headline that reads "Two Republican lawmakers introduce legistation to help the middle-class!" Or how about "Americans just aren't upset with Cuba anymore – instead focusing anger on completely useless Republicans in Congress!"

    April 6, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Woman In California

    Who knows why they chose Cuba and I really don't care but when people become wealthy, they tend to think they are above the law and this goes for republicans and democrats.

    April 6, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. Debra

    They went because they felt like it.

    April 6, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  5. Prezence

    Typical. Do you people seriously have nothing better to do than look into a superstars vacation? Maybe you want to focus on, oh I don't know, our looming debt crisis, working on coming up with viable solutions to Social Security, ensuring we don't screw this country up, maybe? But no, Jay Z and Beyonce took an expensive vacation let's look into that.

    April 6, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  6. Gpaul50

    It's time for America stop the restrictions on travel to Cuba and resume relations with them. All the sanctions have done is hurt the Cuban people. Enough is enough it's time.

    April 6, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. Alexander Wayne

    Aren't we free to do anything we choose.

    April 6, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. Bert BigDongler

    The United States has tired of hearing about them all the time?

    April 6, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. Moor

    Leave them alone.

    April 6, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    We had Hanoi Jane in the 60s; now we have Havana Beyonce

    April 6, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  11. Jim3933

    Please shut up and let people enjoy their lives

    April 6, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. litclam

    How can you say that it is wrong to go to Cuba for vacation because they are communist, but then go borrow gazillions of dollars and import tons of chit from China?

    April 6, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. iBod

    I grew a friendship with a couple of Canadians on my vacation to the Dominican Republic a few years back. They had been to Cuba and when I asked them what it was like, what it looked like, etc., they couldn't even explain how beautiful it was. They said it was one of the best vacations they had ever taken. Gives me a craving to go there, myself, would it not be for the present restrictions.

    Here's what I say: When the old man croaks, fix the American-Cuban relations. Not only are present broken relations a generational issue, it's also irrelevant in a modern day. The time has come already. Make the amends.

    April 6, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. Casey Payne

    Who the heck cares what they do? I'm glad our resources are being allocated correctly.

    April 6, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  15. ANGIE

    I honestly was wondering How they did get to tour the country so freely? Interesting I didn't even know that the "OPTION" was available to do so under educational activities, but I still would be very frighten to do so. When they return tot he US they will have 99 Problems & Cuba ain't 1 if they got their story short. lol

    April 6, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  16. ThroesSpin

    But US tourists can go as they please to North Korea?

    April 6, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  17. this is stupid..

    Isn't this a "free" country??...the only people paranoid about Cuba still are old people that lived through the cold war...no one else cares....

    April 6, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  18. Brotherman from the 5th Floor

    Why can't they go to Cuba? Please tell me why there is some embargo against Cuba after all these years and yet we do and promote business in China? Seems like Republican lawmakers are jealous because they have have money and are African-American?

    If you can promote others going to China to enhance their businesses then this should not be nothing different?

    April 6, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  19. Rachel Benson

    Who gives a damn? Beyonce and Jay-Z are free to vacation on their dime anywhere they please, and they don't have to justify it to me, you or anyone else. The Cold War ended over 20 years ago, it's time to move on. I'm no Castro fan, but atrocities were carried out against the people of Cuba long before Castro as well. He's just another in a long line.

    April 6, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  20. Sean

    I am not a of fan of Jay Z or Beyonce, but seriously who is the U.S. government to tell anyone, what sort of social interactions they can have with other human beings, and where people can and cannot travel.

    April 6, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  21. scuba45

    Let all Americans travel anywhere they want. If Beyonce and her husband were not as well known, we would not be talking about this.
    Everyday hundreds of Americans go there thru third countries.
    If we can travel to VietNam, why not Cuba?

    April 6, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  22. Hugh Jorgan

    Land of the free?

    April 6, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  23. Gordon Duprey

    Maybe they should just stay there.

    April 6, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  24. Rachel

    Beyonce and her hubby clearly have some pull in the political realm, so their entry into Cuba as tourism is indeed unsurprising. However, I would also say in the same breath that lawmakers DEFINITELY need to investigate this.

    I trust Beyonce and her husband about as much as I can throw them.

    April 6, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    So, has anyone asked them directly or looked at the travel docs filed to see why they were there or what they claimed they were doing there?

    April 6, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
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