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. doug collins

    The congressmen should be working tirelessly on normalizing relations with the Cuban govt and striving to make its society open and its people free instead of complaining about where a couple vacations.

    April 6, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    I agree, americans should stay out of Cuba. The rest of us enjoy it there so much we don't need them ruining the place for us.

    April 6, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. timtam

    wow! how fortunate for the zee's to be able to go down cuba way without the restrictions we common folk would have to adhere to. i guess being "rich & famous" really can get you into places. even to a place with restricted freedoms. maybe next year's annivsary they will go see what n. korea has to offer. HAPPY 5TH!

    April 6, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  4. Fidel

    who cares. Its time to tear down these travel restrictions Mr. Gorbachev- I mean Senor Castro...

    April 6, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  5. Patrick Merien

    I just don't get it. The US government can have relationship with communist China and its citizen cannot visit Cuba.

    April 6, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  6. Ross

    I mean we can debate this if you want- but I believe a more valid question is what right does the US have to restrict where a human being travels? It is one thing if it is out of safety, but simply to further its ideological brain washing of its citizens...its rather stupid- I thought the cold war was over. I do not know people living in Cuba- but they aren't hostile to us- and I don't need the government deciding who my enemy simply because they have different beliefs as to how their economy should work. We do business with countries who have committed worse atrocities than Cuba and I dare say we ourselves have done worse- no one else has dropped a nuke and this country was founded on stolen land after all. I refuse to believe that with all the advances in thought that our current government is the best we can do every week we're on a new financial cliff...if the government is for the people why does it seem to serve itself?

    April 6, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  7. Mike

    They must be really ignorant to pick Cuba over all of the other countries they could freely visit. Even a redneck from Iowa knows the story, restrictions, and history of the embargo.

    April 6, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  8. Mike Sawtell

    Because they can. They have the funds and leverage to command this trip. Believe this is a total non-story.

    April 6, 2013 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  9. A. Mac

    I'm failing to understand why one would want to vacation in a place where thousands of people die trying to flee? There are so many other beautiful places to vacation that are a lot less risky, so why pick Cuba?

    April 6, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  10. Karl Kam Klum

    I love President Obama

    April 6, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  11. Terae

    okay repubs don't you have something better to do "Like question those in political leadership?" not citizen that want to take a vacation from the United States....If you have a problem with Cuba you should have a problem with China and us spending money here in the United States to help the banks spend more and rob us more...maybe you should be more concerned about that...

    April 6, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  12. Polijukie

    Maybe they should have gone to China, Northern Sudan, or North Korea like Rodman. Juxtapose the US stats (health care, education, and the prison system) to Cuba's. Most Cuban nationals want the Castro brothers to die so that they can go back, buy up property, and exploit the people on that island.

    April 6, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  13. trevor

    As a Canadian, I find it disgraceful that America continues to suppress this nation. Canadians have been traveling to this beautiful country for many years. The people and culture are one of the main reasons why we continue to go.

    April 6, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  14. johnrettie

    My sister in law just returned from a vacation in Cuba. She's lucky as she lives in Britain where it's citizens are allowed to travel freely overseas, unlike Americans.

    April 6, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  15. Chuck

    The U.S. Government should not have the right in telling individuals where they are able to vacation. There are more issues in the U.S. that they should be looking into rather than two individuals going to Cuba. The embargo with Cuba is only hurting the innocent as the Cuban Government has access to what they need from other countries of which the people are left living in poverty.

    April 6, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  16. Prof. Joe

    I work in the Caribbean and I see the Cubans at every turn working hard to undermine and destabilize our interests. This year, a reporter traveled with me and told me that he cannot travel to Cuba simply because his grandfather had been imprisioned by the Cubans for opposing the Castro regime. If he sets foot on Cuban soil, he, too, will be imprisioned.

    It does not take much to see the wicked suppression of the Cuban government of free speech, religion and assembly.

    Personally, I do not take kindly to those regimes that seek to undermine and destroy our country. I enjoy having the priviledge of posting a comment on CNN's websire whenever I want to do that – something that is impossible in Cuba.

    April 6, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  17. JO

    Makes complete sense to me. Anything to draw attention away from their total inability to function as competent politicians in matters directly concerning their own country (yes, I know... how dare I expect so much from our elected officials).

    April 6, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  18. kathy

    Why doesn't Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart write to the Treasury Department about all the cuban people that are here getting disability and spending that money every single month in Cuba.

    April 6, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  19. Fred

    First of all there is no travel ban for US citizens to Cuba. There is a ban on spending US dollars there. So just
    book a paid package in Canada and you haven't violated the regulation. But more to the point, the US government
    has no right to tell you where you travel, who you associate with or where you spend your money. They
    can go screw themselves. Cuba is a wonderful place to vacation with a much much lower crime rate than the
    US. And Cuban government don't murder anybody, that is preposterous propaganda. The US government should
    spend more time cleaning up the corruption and crime in Congress and the White House and leave we the
    people the hell alone..

    April 6, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  20. Nathan

    How is it that Americans allow their government to tell them where they're allowed to travel? The Cuban missile crisis was decades ago, get over it. Canada has had great relations with Cuba for years, so why is the US so scared of them?

    April 6, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  21. martin

    The best thing we could do to changes the Cuban system of government is to flood Cuba with affluent tourists.

    April 6, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  22. Rschatz

    Oh I get it we can spend our tourist dollars in China, Russia, any of the sweet as pie.. do no evil African nations and heck even in Iran... but Cuba they are a true threat to national security and the worst of the worst when it comes to human rights...please what a joke!

    April 6, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  23. connor shaw

    this is way outta line.. the government needs to worry about sending all these illegal immigrants home and getting our economy back on track than a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. i guess if ur not spending ur money in american, greeland, europe or austrilia something isn't right. i hate the way america looks down on poorer countries!!!

    April 6, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  24. Newport Pagnell

    Weird place for a vacation.

    April 6, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  25. Sheryl Mexic

    What do their camps say?

    April 6, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
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