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. Guest

    I can't believe that out all of the obstacles facing America, they choose to focus on them.

    April 6, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. Mike

    The restrictions still in place on Cuba are ridiculous. We should drop them now. I understand some Cuban Americans are still sensitive about the subject, but the rest of us have no issues whatsoever with Cuba. Its not 1980 anymore. Time to move on

    April 6, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  3. JamVee@hotmail.com

    Which is it, US citizens are are allowed to travel to Cuba, or not? If it is NOT, then arrest them and charge them with whatever crime it is. If it IS, then what is this story about anyway?

    April 6, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  4. seriously

    Isn't China also a communist country. Where's that embargo? Cuba has done nothing to America mean while China is ruining us. Why is everyone so obsessed with Beyonce and her husband. They're normal people enjoying there money they made.

    April 6, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. ryan

    Jay-Z and Beyonce think American Laws don't apply to them just like Obama.

    April 6, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  6. bob johnson

    So why is it that US citizens can go to north korea but not to cuba?

    April 6, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  7. bob johnson

    how about those who have been deeply and personally harmed by republican politics?

    April 6, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  8. Madre in Padre

    .....tell me again how we live in a free country...

    April 6, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  9. pmmarion

    Lifting the embargo is the only thing that will bring democracy to Cuba. Over 40 years of embargo has not broken the will of the Cuban people or the Castro regime, and it is unlikely that it will. However ending the embargo will show the Cuban people what they can have if a society is made free. We have to remember to be free you have to have a reason to be willing to change. There is nothing to look forward to as long as the embargo is in place. The U.S. has placed a wall around Cuba and it up to the U.S. to tear that wall down.

    April 6, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  10. Angel

    Report some history about how Cuba got to be against US security interest. Saying that Cuba's regime is murderous is like a Lion calling a bat a killer when the US regime is bombing the world over and has gone to war with more countries than any country in the world it's just not fair because since Cuba didn't want to be controlled by the us like the Philippines, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico (who were all forced into submission) their labeled as what ever we want to make them sound like horrible evil people. This kind of propaganda that we need to watch out for.

    April 6, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. mwlam

    Can America please get over this whole Cuba blockade. It's pretty out-dated.

    April 6, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  12. Tony in Maine

    Maybe they needed to see a doctor who didn't require them to sign over all assets and their first born son to one of those minor deities we call health care providers.

    April 6, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Just like anything else in this country if you have the money you can do whatever you want including breaking the law. Whats really sad is they have access to the white house and obama, who won't say a word.

    April 6, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  14. brittany

    I dont see the big deal. Many celebrities have been going their before the change from 2012. what makes beyonce and jayz so different? im sure when those other celebs went there was no articles about it.

    April 6, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  15. DJ Reality

    Beyoncé and Jay-Z went to Cuba? So what. We as a nation have bigger problems than worrying about two people goinf to Cuba. My God the cold war is over. Congressmen are worried about this and not unemployment. Hey, congress how about a jobs bill damn it!!!!!

    April 6, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. moony

    First of all WHOOOOOOOOOOO CAAAAAAARES !!! And second, PLEASE PLEASE stay there you two.

    April 6, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. Mark

    The way the US (large and wealthy country) treats Cuba (poor and tiny country) is a great example of international bullying.

    April 6, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. Maddiecait

    But they are rich and famous so rules don't apply to them...

    April 6, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  19. brown

    What an arrogant display of indifference towards both the people of the United States and Cuba.

    These two freaks deserve a stiff penalty.

    April 6, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  20. Mark

    Quote: "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"
    This sounds like a description of China ... yet the US does not restrict tourism travel to China, because China is a bigger bully than the US. Like all bullies, the US picks only on the weak ones (Cuba)

    April 6, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  21. enufalready

    So tired of Beyonce

    April 6, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  22. jnpa

    Like most celebrities they feel they are entitled!

    April 6, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  23. JA

    Did these same representatives raise a red-flag when Rodman went to North Korea? Hmmm....

    April 6, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  24. Erik

    The right to travel is a part of the liberty of which a citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment.

    April 6, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  25. john

    republicans need to figure out how to get minorities and other non whites into their party given their white only policies and agenda and stop wasting time chasing after celebrities.

    April 6, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
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