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. larry

    EMC, that is exactly the point, they aren't in the land of the Free, they are in Cuba.

    April 7, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. Steve

    Because they don't think the laws apply to them. And they're probably right.

    April 7, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. Lucas

    Cuba isn't such a bad place to visit – it's full of Canadians and European tourists. Only in the US do they make Cuba seem like the North Korea of the South.

    April 7, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. KissMyRoss

    Those two republicans are wasting their time. Really, there are more important things to worry about.

    April 7, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. Krystal

    Americans have an infamous misunderstanding of Cuba since 1959. America is an imperialistic force that is trying to CONTROL the Cuban people. The crimes we try to pin on Castro can never reach the crimes the U.S has committed. Need i remind that the United States has dropped TWO nuclear bombs on civilian populations.

    April 7, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. larry the conquerer

    So by that rational I guess Americans arent allowed to travel/support/buy anything from Iran, China,Argentina,Saudi Arabia,Pakistan,North Korea? How did Dennis Rodman get a pass, but not these 2? Moronic. The Cuban Missile crisis was 60 years ago! get over it already.

    April 7, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Thousands of Cuban Americans cant travel freely to see their own relatives in Cuba-it is ridiculous that beyonce and jay-z can travel there simply because of who they are.

    April 7, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. rob

    Our military can have a base on the island but we can't travel to cuba . Talk about hypocricy

    April 7, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  9. Auguste Duplan

    Ileana Ros-Lehtinen , Mario Diaz-Balart and Marco Rubio should get a life! they just miss the old Batista regime when their families were oppressing the poor people of Cuba. What a bunch of Hypocrites!

    April 7, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. SCPilot

    Yes, Americans are perfectly allowed to travel to Israel, where US dollars support the murder of innocent Palestinians every day.

    April 7, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I love cuba you all should go I am from England, and do your research on what when down back in the day cuba were not the bad guys, it's all money and power do not be brain washed if it was so bad why is it full of european's and canadians smell the coffee you American's wake up you have been asleep for long enough.

    April 7, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. dennycraneesq

    This is great news; for Democrats. In an attempt to capture votes in Florida, a couple of right wing Republicans will manage to further alienate black and Hispanic voters. They will also look like idiots, as everyone goes to Cuba; we just do it quietly, through Mexico or Jamaica. The embargo of Cuba has been an embarrassing failure for 50 years. Every other country in the world allows free travel to Cuba, yet the U.S., which touts itself as a bastion of freedom, forbids its citizens to visit Cuba. We can go to Communist China, or totalitarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia, but we cannot go to Cuba. By raising this non-issue, the Tea Party Republican show why they can no longer get elected outside of the Bible Belt and the Deep South.

    April 7, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. KeWill

    Seriously?

    They went to Cuba because God gave us Free Will and we can do what we want. The bigger question is why we as Americans follow people around and try to involve ourselves in the personal affairs of others.--And if you really want to think...think about why you are so concerned about the corruption in Cuba. There is plenty of corruption right here in the good ole US of A to keep you busy for centuries....

    But...I guess it would be too easy to focus on the real problems eh?

    April 7, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  14. Sam

    Americans, please don't start visiting Cuba! We enjoy having a place to vacation free of typical loud annoying yanks. Sincerely, the rest of the developed World.

    April 7, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  15. thomas

    Barcardi is made in P.R. not Cuba, the reason that Americans are not allowed there for FUN is so the bad boys there won't get any American money

    April 7, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  16. Sean in AZ

    I have no idea why they went to Cuba, nor do I care. If we're really lucky, they wills stay there, and we will never hear from them again.

    April 7, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  17. Sean in AZ

    I have no idea why they went to Cuba, nor do I care. If we're really lucky, they will stay there, and we will never hear from them again. Oh, and look – CNN is protecting these two id10ts from getting their feelings hurt by censoring posts. What a surprise.

    April 7, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  18. J

    Personally I would like to see them both stay in Cuba for good. But when they do return they should be arrested, fined, and CPS should take their child.

    April 7, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  19. shell

    sooooooooo you all really think Beyonce and Jay-Z where the first americans to go to cuba?! lmao lets not talk about all the rich white men from america that go. 0_0

    April 7, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  20. Me Tinks

    End the stupid boycott. As one who has been to Cuba 3 times, I have seen with my own eyes the injury being done to the very poor people there.

    April 7, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  21. BigdaddyUSA

    We can't go to Cuba because of human rights violations but we can go to Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Egypt, Lybia and so on. How about we ban Obama from spending a million bucks to play golf with woods?

    April 7, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  22. Carl Monday

    They are friends of the President, they will not get in trouble for this. Wake up people.

    April 7, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  23. Kornelius

    For 54 years our government has placed an embargo on Cuba. Everything has a beginning and an end, this is the beginning of the end of this now unjust travel embargo. We the people will make sure that the travel embargo is lifted. To those two republicans... Hands off our citizens or we the people will send you back to papa.

    April 7, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  24. Dave R

    Canadians have been going to Cuba for a long time now, so have Americans. As the article mentions you fly to Canada, then go to Cuba. Everyone else just aren't celebrities.

    April 7, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  25. renatobotelho

    A few weeks ago Yoani Sanchez got permission from the Cuban Government to travel overseas. In Brazil she was harassed by leftist protesters.. This was a not democratic manifestation. Now Beyonce is harassed by the lawmakers and, may be, subjected to sanctions. So a Cuban oppositionist is allowed to travel overseas but an American singer is not allowed to go to Cuba. Were is the American democracy?

    April 7, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
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