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. Mighty

    These are the goons we elected to represent us in Florida. The US embargo is a catastrophic failure and you all need to move on. Freedom of movements is one of our fundamental rights as US Citizens. The Dissidents needs to move on. Please!

    April 7, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  2. Capone

    So Dennis Rodman can go to North Korea and hobnob with their leader, who threatens to nuke the U.S. but Beyonce and Jay-Z traveling to Cuba, who is in no position to attack anyone, is an outrage?

    I also like this from the article:

    “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,”

    What do Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet, Manuel Noriega, and Hosni Mubarak have in common?

    They are all dictators that murdered and suppressed their own people while the United States financially supported them.

    April 7, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  3. Daryl Moistner

    I've been to Cuba a number of times myself. This travel ban of its own citizens is so out of touch with the freedom that America likes to espouse...it is so against the Helsinki Accord that the US signed on to, specifically section 13.2, ...It is another one of those American foreign policy blunders that are happening far too frequently these days....and it is a policy so easy to ignore...

    April 7, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  4. Chris

    Not my problem... I'm a U.S. citizen and I'll go to Cuba if I feel like it. The U.S. government needs to mind it's own business and stay out of it's citizen's personal travel plans.

    April 7, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  5. Ross B

    Celebrities shouldn't be above the law. Money and fame shouldn't get you special privileges and those of you who defend this behavior are missing the point.

    April 7, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  6. Peter Gerdeman

    It is time to lift the worthless sanctions against Cuba, and let our American citizens visit and do business there. Enough is enough of the radical, right Republicans in South Florida who have done nothing but impede any progress between us. So – what have we achieved in the last 60 years with all this exclusion?

    April 7, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  7. Cactus Novak

    As Canadian, the general living conditions I witnessed while standing on the steps of the Capital building in Havana was numbing and disgraceful. The Reps from Florida are either ignorant of the conditions or were just part of the propaganda when they wrote that they support Cuban people in Cuba. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water!

    April 7, 2013 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  8. Camryn

    It's none of their business! Republicans complain so much about big, intrusive government unless it favors them. How is this couple's trip to Cuba any of their business? Are they still sour because they think Beyonce and Jay-Z helped Obama win the election? Idiots. If they don't want people telling them what to do with their money and guns, they need to reciprocate the gesture and shut up!

    April 7, 2013 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  9. McAuley

    This is another tiresome diversion by Republicans from real issues that genuinely affect real, hard-working Americans.

    April 7, 2013 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  10. Steve_YYZ

    Oh for heaven's sake..... Isn't it about time America gets over the completely failed cold was policy of embargo? The USA hypocracy is astounding when one considers that you trade/travel openly with China, Vietnam (who whupped your butt), and that wonderful country called Saudi Arabia where you buy lots of your oil and women can't even walk outside unescorted by a male relative. Yet Americans conveniently overlook these facts everytime they pump gas or walk into Walmart. On top of that, you let Cuban economic refugees (because that's what 99.9% of them really are) walk directly to the front of the line and get immediate residency status due to the Wet-foot/Dry-foot policy. One year and one day later, they are free to travel unrestricted back to Cuba to visit as many times per year as they wish. And hundreds of thousands of them do every single year. And you're now worried about two people who went to Havana and that they just "might" have been there for tourism? The whole world's laughing at the USA.

    April 7, 2013 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  11. Groucho Marx

    Through decades, Miami Cuban politicians have spread the lie that Cuban government doesn't allow to visit freely the island. This is totally false. It's our Government, (obeying the Cuban pressure coming from Miami), that enacted laws banning American citizens to travel to Cuba. It's a shame that our foreign policy toward Cuba (Immigration procedures included) has been written and dictated for Cubans living in Miami – Calle Ocho. Shamefully on Washington DC our Senators and House Representatives put the rubber stamp in exchange of Cuban American votes and juicy political contributions. Miami Cubans have seized our irrational Immigration policy toward Cubans giving them more benefits, privileges and opportunities than the same American citizens. Regarding Mrs. Ross Lethinen and Diaz Balart brothers, they are not our Congressmen. It's more accurate if we say they are Cubans infiltrated in our Congress.

    April 7, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  12. bubba's cousin

    Trying to see if they get as much free publicity as Dennis Rodman... they got records to sell !

    April 7, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  13. Groucho Marx

    When Americans will get back the right to write the laws concerning Cubans? It's time to repeal the absurd and discriminatory 1966 law called Cuban Adjustment Act.

    April 7, 2013 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  14. mk2aw

    It's a public relations boon for a regime that has killed countless innocent men, women and children in the last half
    century , thrown writers, poets and musicians in sub human jails for life for simply wanting freedom and free speech and systematically starved the population but this is not even the worst part . The worst part is that the same restaurants and hotels they are enjoying can not be used by the local population . They are banned . It's a mind boggling regime bent on belligerent discrimination of its own populace . If you champion visiting Cuba, you might as well wear a white hood when you get there .....

    April 7, 2013 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  15. Name

    It doesn't matter. The US sometimes need to chill and realize that not everybody would like the US to be around them. Hence, they don't control everywhere as they thought. And that not everyone who dislike the US is considered a terrorist. The US just needs to CHILL.

    April 7, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  16. Codestud3

    That s back door diplomacy for Obama. They were doing it for Obama. Lets not be naive.

    April 7, 2013 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  17. madamdeb

    Could it be....music? And why do we still have this stupid policy about Cuba?

    April 7, 2013 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  18. Kevin

    prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

    April 7, 2013 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  19. may

    I guess they mean no harm. Just there for the anniversary fun

    April 7, 2013 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  20. madamdeb

    Could it be...music?! And why should we care? And why do we still have this nutso policy with Cuba? China's the most communist country on earth and yet have normalized relations with them. This is so stupid, after all these years.

    April 7, 2013 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  21. John

    I thought the GOP was against big Government. Mind your own business coongressman and quit telling people how to lead their lives. Don't you have anything better to do.

    April 7, 2013 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  22. SM

    First off with all the nonsense that goes on in Florida the thing that prompted these men to write letters was two pop stars on vacation?!? Really? Secondly no one wrote letters to Rodman who had dinner with the man who's been threatening to nuke us for the past week!? I know these two congressmen have more important matters to tend to, let these ppl live there lives geez.

    April 7, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  23. Malachi

    Why is it anyone's business where Beyoncé and Jay-Z decide to go?

    April 7, 2013 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  24. Daniel mukuka

    Careful Congressmen some people might think the US is just like cuba, china and others like them.

    April 7, 2013 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  25. cab

    Land of the free says: You'll vacation where you're told to.

    April 7, 2013 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
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