April 6th, 2013
04:49 PM ET
1 year 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. Connie

    Because the USA feels the need to tell the world what to do and where to go.

    April 7, 2013 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  2. richard

    maybe they want to be president of cuba,like wyclef and haiti

    April 7, 2013 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  3. richard

    beyonce went to libya

    April 7, 2013 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  4. Florida guy

    Brits go there. So do Canadians. Everybody goes there on vacation except Americans. You can fly to Nassau and catch a puddle-jumper to Havana if you want. Please just stop this charade and normalize relations. What makes Cuba different from Vietnam? or Germany? or Japan?

    Move on.....

    April 7, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  5. Ross Strickland

    The best way to bring democracy to Cuba is for the Americans to do business with the country and travel freely there. Democracy, however, will only come if the citizens of Cuba want it, because in the end it 's the people's choice.

    April 7, 2013 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  6. scuba45

    Ileana Ross and Diaz Ballart have been proposing this failed policy for over 50 years in Cuba.
    Some of Cuba most outspoken critics are now traveling freely abroad (including visiting South America, New York and Miami) .
    Yet Americans are restricted from visiting Cuba.
    The overwhelming majority of Cubans in Cuba favor Americans visits because it puts dollars in their pockets. The majority of Americans favor the right to travel anywhere they want. Yet these two South Florida politicians with rich special interest groups (i.e. Radio Marti, TV Marti, etc) are holding this country hostage to the will of the majority.
    Raul Castro has given more freedom to Cubans in the last four years (freedom of individual travel, private enterprise, making religious holidays national holidays, etc) than the failed Cuban American right wing policies have been able to accomplish in over 50 years.
    Let's get smart and give the citizens of this country AND the REAL Cubans what they really want,.

    April 7, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  7. Jon in Pittsburgh

    WHO CARES???? I went to Erie last week – nobody reported on that...

    April 7, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  8. Sane Person

    To buy cigars? Who freaking cares? Focus on your jobs, congress!

    April 7, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  9. jnpa

    Because they are celebrities and feel they are entitled!

    April 7, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  10. Pat. a.mallett

    Why did Beyonce and Jay z go to Cuba? ....A 'for real' question?....Easy answer...FOR MONEY! Ask them how much they got paid for the gig, who paid them and DID THEY PAY TAXES ON THE MONEY THEY RECEIVED FOR DOING THE GIG.

    April 7, 2013 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  11. john

    Who really cares?

    April 7, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  12. Rosie Cavin

    What humbug! I thought freedom is country meant we are able to come and go where and when we please? Cuba has a lively tourism because people from around the world can visit. There are direct flights from Toronto to Havana. We are not going to change the regime – we haven't been able to do so with our sanctions since 1959. Let my people go!

    April 7, 2013 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  13. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    They can stay in Cuba.

    April 7, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  14. JJ

    A pretty and talented woman with a common THUG go to Cuba..........wonderful story America!

    April 7, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  15. Anonymous

    free national press to impress their cuban constituents.

    April 7, 2013 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  16. JJ

    Why this guy?
    I can see her going as some type of music "bridge" but this guy has a criminal record.
    Why is he allowed to "represent" America?
    OH I FORGOT........he sends money and has visited the WH.

    April 7, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  17. J.M.

    so the US would prefer to revert to when the Mob and Big Business owned and suppressed the masses. Well, par for the course.
    Funny, the Brits, French, Germans and Canadians don't think that way. It couldn't be that the US is a tad off-base or stuck in the 50's could it?

    April 7, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  18. wmontanye

    Two Republican lawmakers, Just get to work on something that matters.....

    April 7, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  19. rare_earth

    The rest of the world goes to Cuba and enjoys the hospitality and tourism, along with the fantastic resorts.

    April 7, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  20. John from Toronto

    All Americans should stay away and leave Cuba alone for us Canadians to enjoy!

    April 7, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  21. g

    communist china good ,communist vietnam good, communist cuba bad ,wake up republicans ,picking good communist and bad communist is 1950,s60,

    April 7, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  22. No right!

    The government has no right to tell us where we can travel to. Last I checked we are free independent people of free will and if we wish to indulge in other cultures who is our government to prevent us from doing that.

    April 7, 2013 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  23. Dave Dart

    The travel restrictions to Cuba are out-dated, petulant, childish, obviously ineffective and make America look like yahoos. They would make sense if we restricted travel to all those countries which offend our sense of justice and liberty, but we don't so we're just being hypocrites but singling out Cuba. Does the expatriate Cuban community really still have that much influence over our lawmakers?

    April 7, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  24. frontgatee

    Damned cubans in politics in Florida.
    That's where the problem is.
    U.S. should remove all restriction on travel to Cuba.

    April 7, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  25. eifeldude

    Ok, So we have become buddies with Russia our sworn enemy of the cold war and travel there. We have made buddies with the Viet Nam where 58,000 of our brave young men and women died in vain and are now best friends again with the communist government who defeated us. We give nuclear reactors to North Korea and food aid. But..we pick on one of our closest neighbors because we are the school yard bully who failed to get our way. Castro is the direct result of our medaling with Cuban affairs...read the history. So we cut off and isolate this island nation for 50 plus years and in this land of the "FREE" and home of the brave, we make it illegal to travel there. Guess we aren't free like the label pretends we are. Now, here is the crazy part. Out closest ally Great Britain ignores this embargo and trades with them and it's citizens travel there for vacation. In fact, there is not another country that honors this so called bully embargo. The US needs to grow up, quit being a bully and lift this worthless embargo. Oh, and give them back GITMO. This is an illegal contract

    April 7, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
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