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. Tim

    Please fine the daylights out of them... it's time they realized that money doesn't put you above the law, especially when you're supporting a murderous regime with that money.

    April 7, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. Dawhite43

    Who else but the goverenment, always tring to started something. Leave people alone and start cleaning up the crooks inside the goverenment.

    April 7, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. Brandon

    Why should we not allow American tourists into Cuba? Answer:" Cuban Missle Crisis"

    April 7, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. Richard

    People who have money and support the right candidates can do whatever they please. Laws don't apply to them.

    April 7, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. gino

    To those of us unfortunate to be in her district Ileana is known as Roseanne Roseannadanna. Listen to her sometime and see if you don't agree that she belongs on SNL. Gilda Radner had her down pat: she's a vain and foolish simpleton.

    April 7, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. m steve

    We should stop buying Bacardi rum since it seems that they are so against any change of relationship with Cuba since their factories were taken over. Try some Havana Club rum when out of the US against Bacardi and you will see why they are afraid. It tastes so much better. The Cuban Americans in Congress are in their pocket.

    April 7, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. ajinomoto

    i just want to be sure i understand this.....repubclican lawmakers took time out of their 'busy' schedule to inquire about jayz and beyonce's trip?

    April 7, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. scuba45

    If Obama was smart, he would abolish the money to enforce this silly rule prohibiting Americans from visiting Cuba.
    It is truly enforceable since every other country travels to Cuba anyway.
    Then ALL AMERICANS could go legally and we could concentrate in the real issue of limiting illegal aliens from coming in.

    April 7, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Irfan Haqqee

    Why did they go to Cuba? Because it is there!

    April 7, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. Crack

    Is amazing how ignorant some of these posts are. I can't wait to hear how the current administration rationalizes this. Guarantee it's touted as a supported endeavor.

    April 7, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  11. AC Summers

    I would like to go to cuba just to see how in the heck they keep the very old cars still running!?!?

    April 7, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. AC Summers

    Also who cares if they went to cuba. There are a lot of singers, actors, businesses going to cuba their visits are just not highlighted.

    April 7, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. EMC

    Wow! For the "land of the free", you all sure love to tell people what to do......

    April 7, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. nicole

    Guantanamo prison? Seriously we're going to play the collaborator card?

    April 7, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  15. Luc

    As a Canadian.... it's prety hard to understand the " Why " you could not go to Cuba.

    April 7, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. motleyspeaks

    I am sorry but if I was a multi-millionaire international artist, I think I would go anywhere the BLEEP I wanted to. Long story short they should stay out of their business... Honestly.

    April 7, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. Canuck

    Let it go America.....

    April 7, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Israelis can go , why not Americans ?
    Israel dose business with Cuba , why not America ?

    Because of politicians like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen , Mario Diaz-Balart and Marco Rubio of Florida.

    It's in there best interest .

    April 7, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Preston

    It's nobodies damn business why they went there. Leave those people alone to enjoy their wedding anniversary.

    April 7, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. snj

    Jay-Z and Beyonce can travel to Cuba if they want. Why is this an issue? Don't the objecting Republican congressman have more obstructionism to get to? Typical...

    April 7, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Wise1Speak

    PEOPLE, , , PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAPS! LOSE THE HATE!
    (1.) – First, thousands of people have been traveling to Cuba (including reporters, movie, and media types) for decades and Congressional Republicans have never uttered a peep. (2.) – Secondly, it is not illegal to travel to Cuba when following a strict travel itinerary. (3.) – Thirdly, it is highly unlikely that two high profile celebrities would risk all to break American laws.

    Therefore this 'ridiculous kafuffle' is just another Republican Tea Party concoction designed to smear President Obama by attacking a couple of high profile celebrities (Jay-Z & Beyonce) who are known to support the President.

    April 7, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. WLT

    Congress and North Korea have a lot in common.....old worn out ideas of dictating too citizens what is freedom. If people want too leave or visit somewhere....LET THEM! Cuba is no more of an invading threat to the US than South Korea is to the North....so leaders, start talking to your neighbours and find common ground on both sides of the world!

    April 7, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. Jeb

    Americans are actually allowed to travel to Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Bolivia.....all countries that are openly hostile to our government and way of life.

    Why not Cuba?

    Because a handful of old Cuban expats say so?

    April 7, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. Bazinga

    What has the 50+ year embargo accomplished, other then starving the average Cuban citiizen, while these two Miami elitist pols dine in luxury everyday, easy for them to argue for the stauts quo while their belly are full.
    Keep the same tactics in place, the definition of stupidity, while Castro has outlasted how many U.S. Presidents, 9?

    April 7, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Lost freedoms

    America is (was) a free country, so long as we do what we are told!?! The founding fathers are spinning in their graves!!

    April 7, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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