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. Miguel

    They went to Cuba ,because they are liberals and the left loves socialists/communist strong men and dictators. They always have.

    Low information voters will keep buying their junk and voting Obama.

    April 7, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  2. La Voz

    So I just read another article about this and according to martinoticias who is a news organization funded by american tax payers to "help" take down the regime through spreading information. They were the ones the broke the story along MTV, Hollywood, etc. They said that they reviewed every single newspaper from Granma (Cuba's only news organization), and not once they mentioned Beyonce being in Cuba. But according to this Cuban Senator the Castro Regime touted it in its propaganda lol Man is because of guys like this subject that we still have the embargo and the travel restriction and all this stupid laws concerning Cuba.

    April 7, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  3. power4things

    Oh, you are free to travel to Cuba, you just can't spend any money there. On food, lodging, breathing, etc. But don't worry, they're stars, they'll get out of it ... you won't however, so don't go.

    April 7, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. cameroon

    they should be focusing on how to fix the American economy instead of worrying about two individuals on vacation in cuba what about the thousand anonymous American citizens who go there every year? who the heck is jay-z I thing those lawmakers are jist looking for publicity

    April 7, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  5. Dennis

    "I fail to understand", "I don't see how". I guess most of you have been living under a rock for the past 30-40 years or so if you don't know why such travel restictions are in place. Yet if Beyonce/JayZ had for some stupid reason felt to be spies (not that far fetched) and imprisoned you would have been up in arms calling for Castro's head and demanding their release. Any/all money goes to support the Castro regime AKA DICTATORSHIP. therefore the US doesn't want our task dollars going to support them. But I guess the couples figures they can do what they want. Just like that idiot Dennis Rodman's trip to N. Korea.

    April 7, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  6. tala

    Shame on you CNN for shoddy reporting. How can you mention that Cuba was popular for Americans back in the '50s and fail to point out that Cuba is a popular tourist destination for most western countries except the US today. Get over the historical spat and start treating Cuba as least as well as China is today. Yes, there's the exiled Cubans who swing the Florida vote because of the blood feud...

    April 7, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  7. digger

    My question is not why did they go. My question is why didn't they stay.

    April 7, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  8. rsbntn

    To Ileana and Mario: Get over it! Look at the calendar, It's 2013, not 1961!

    April 7, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  9. Joe M.

    If the government wants people to take the restrictions seriously, there have to be repercussions for this visit. WOuld an ordinary American receive such deference? I think not.

    April 7, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  10. Florian

    I went to Cuba 6 times to stay in all-inclusive hotels. Awesome! People who work there are locals and they are happy, no-stress, smiling and very hospitable.

    April 7, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  11. Tracy

    We should b free to go were we want

    April 7, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  12. w l jones

    Why not use your position in this country to connect with the Cuban Government and your so call people since you and and American.

    April 7, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. bryant

    great point Greenspam

    April 7, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  14. devlin

    What does thirsty Marco Rubio think of this? He is after all the leader of the Cuban caucus.

    April 7, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  15. Dr. Kill-joy

    Most of you are forgetting why the U.S. embargo in the first place. The Cuban govt. illegally seized 1000's of American companies and American owned property such as; Coca cola, Woolworths, Ford Motor, GE, Hilton Hotels, ITT,Citibank, Residential Homes, etc. Alll of these seizures were done without any compensation and/or rights thereto. Just a Good Morning, I now own your property. Goodbye. Kinda sucks, especially when your still paying the bank note on property you don't own.

    April 7, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  16. Stephen

    Why is it that US politicians figure the best way to promote world peace is to beat the weaker guy into submission? Could it be because these politicians are related to formerly rich Cuban families who lost their wealth when Castro took power? It's time to stop the insanity and work toward normalizing relations.

    April 7, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. BIG GOVERNMENT REPUBLICANS

    As usual the big government republicans are always in your personal business, sometimes in your pants now they want to book my travel. SMH

    April 7, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  18. Dr. Kill-joy

    Oh, I also forgot to list General Motors, Chase Manhattan Bank, BF. Goodrich, Borden, Colgate, Goodyear, Proctor & Gamble, Sears Roebuck, Bristol Meyers-Squibb, Texaco, Pepsi, Exxon and the list goes on.........

    April 7, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  19. Gabbo

    Just more liberal elites, getting the shine treatment from King Barry. All very typical, really, in the mind of a liberal elitist.

    April 7, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  20. Chas

    I certainly wouldn't have recognized her... or him!
    In any event it doesn't matter if they violated the law ain't going to be no prosecution so move on to next news item...
    One could only hope that their travel plans get screwed up and they have to spend the rest of their lives there :)

    April 7, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  21. cyndi

    I'm not an American but believe that this rule is a foreign policy relic from the past that needs to be scrapped. Now if you'd also get rid of your other failed policy relic called 'the war on drugs' Mexico may become safe to visit again.

    April 7, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  22. Winterbear

    Why is the U.S Gov still hung up on Cuba? They pose no threat politically or otherwise, get over yourselves already.

    April 7, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  23. Chelsea

    The point is why Obama's buddies don't have to follow the laws but the lowly serfs must.

    April 7, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. noble

    I think you guys are missing the point....typical american citizens
    How many times do you stand close to an IED before you realize that
    Its going to explode....

    "AMERICANS"

    April 7, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  25. coyote

    Everyone wants to go to Cuba. Time travel on this planet is not every day you know. – besides why are you watching other people? fame... just because everyone knows who someone is...how does that make them any more special than you are? Its a curse actually. – plant something edible – do it today.

    April 7, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
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