Cubans welcome Beyonce and Jay-Z
April 9th, 2013
08:10 PM ET
5 years ago

Treasury says Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s trip was approved

(CNN) – Beyoncé and Jay-Z's recent controversial trip to Cuba was approved by the Treasury Department in advance of their travel, new documents show.

According to a letter obtained by CNN Tuesday, the Treasury Department wrote to two members of Congress who called for an investigation of the trip and explained the type of travel license obtained by the superstar couple.

"It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized by OFAC [the Office of Foreign Assets Control] to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba,” the letter read.

Due to the U.S. government's travel embargo with Cuba, Americans are prohibited from visiting the communist country for tourism. U.S. citizens can apply for licenses to go anyway, provided they show substantial proof they intend to visit for specific reasons, such as for business or education. And they must also provide a detailed itinerary.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z went to Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, leading press reports to characterize the trip as a vacation. The Havana Times, however, reported the couple met with a dance group, a children's theater company, an arts institute and a singer, suggesting there was a cultural and educational element to the trip.

Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida took issue with the trip, and over the weekend asked the U.S. Treasury to investigate.

After receiving the Treasury's response Tuesday, Ros-Lehtinen was not satisfied.

"If the tourist activities undertaken by Beyoncé and Jay-Z in Cuba are classified as an educational exchange trip, then it is clear that the Obama Administration is not serious about denying the Castro regime an economic lifeline that US tourism will extend to it," she said in a statement.

"That was a wedding anniversary vacation that was not even disguised as a cultural program. As more human rights activists engage in hunger strikes, I don't think they will see any evidence of how this scam endeavor will help them become independent of the regime."

Filed under: Cuba • Treasury Department
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. peoples choice

    Republicans bellyaching again, what's newsy about that? Why aren't they griping about the trade deficit with Communist China instead of trying to nit pick everything anyone with ties to the Democrats have anything to do with? Communist Cuba is not even a nit on a fleas back compared to China.

    April 9, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  2. Ed

    Who cares ? American Cubans have kept Castro alive with all there bs crying ! The embargo is never going to work... They are here drinking mojitos... While there Cuban family's and friends struggle cause of the embargo... No one cares !!!!!

    April 9, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  3. Terryb

    i don't think that them visiting is bad business. Lived in Florida long enough to know that Cuba is part of us. And I'm not Cuban!

    April 9, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  4. lightseeker

    These two have lots of money (billions) between them along with political power and whatever us ordinary folks try to do, it will come to a dead end. Don't you know by now, big money owns this country. Congress is a joke and the White House is just as corrupt.

    April 9, 2013 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  5. Sick of Congress

    Why don't Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen try and do their jobs and resolve the debilitating budget issues crippling our country...

    April 9, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  6. koolmanjack

    Who they both shouldve stayed over there.

    April 9, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  7. Master Po

    Hey Ileana, how's that crow taste?

    April 9, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  8. j

    Obama, giving favors to 2...oh never mind..

    April 9, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  9. BN Buma

    Investigating this trip is waste of taxpayers dollar. Haven't the congress men got more important stuff to do?

    April 9, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  10. sambo

    the O administration makes this nation ashamed

    April 9, 2013 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  11. KellyinBoston

    The whole travel-restriction thing with Cuba is ridiculous. We allow Americans to travel to other communist or socialist countries. Cuba is 230 miles from Miami, for God's sake. The Florida representatives are right in questioning the legality of this trip under existing law, but I think that the rest of us need to question the sensibility of maintaining this outdated, existing law.

    April 9, 2013 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  12. Chris

    Under no set of circumstances should the U.S. government have any say in where its citizens travel abroad. The real question should be why these two republicans want to restrict the travel of their citizens. Controlling where Americans can /can't travel hardly sounds constitutional.. And the U.S. has zero jurisdiction outside of its borders.. Big government needs to chill.

    April 9, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  13. Duane Dinga

    Now that they lost the election last year to President Obama and the Democrats. They've become so mentally strained that they attack anything or anyone that moves or anyone allied with the President. Another example if the G.O.P is being "The Stupid Party".

    April 9, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  14. stwebb

    One word: MONEY!!!

    April 10, 2013 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  15. David

    But there was a lot of of jumping to a conclusion by commenters

    April 10, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  16. IamCanadian

    You Americans are really strange people. I am Canadian so we can go to Cuba for vacation if we want to, but this is not the point. You can go to China ro Russia, or even apartheid Israel but not Cuba. So what if Americans got to go there for vacation? I think you might find that you have a good time. Cuba is not the only government that "oppresses' its people.

    April 10, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  17. Fubarack

    The treasury dept, lol where do they come up with this stuff.

    April 10, 2013 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  18. ldean50

    Whaddayasay, we stop entertaining stupid stories like this that mean nothing... the American public is being sidetracked with kah-kah like this, the goofy TN Congressman who today, introduced legislation to ban oral sex between heterosexuals, – I'm tired to death about all this moral legislation and side non-events to take our attention off the REAL issues – jobs! education! corruption of politics and our financial institutions, the liquidation of news' investigative reporting on REAL issues. Shut up about morality for the universe and walk the walk... don't worry about MY stride... thanks, I needed that.

    April 10, 2013 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  19. kevin

    Ease up reps from Florida. We have a 50 year old embargo that is as outdated as communism. If you want better human rights then put more money in the Cuban economy by lifting the embargo. Money speaks volumes.

    April 10, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  20. Alex

    You can not profess to be for limited government and then advocate that the U.S. government has the right to tell you where you may and may not travel. Did these two get special treatment? Almost certainly. But the larger issue is, why do free Americans need licenses to travel anywhere? Why does the government have any right to know why you plan on visiting a specific location. This embargo against Cuba makes no sense at all, and it violates the personal liberty of American citizens.

    April 10, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  21. Adam R

    Republican Ros-Lehtinen needs to chill. The energy she's expending to this can be used more constructively elsewhere. Like working with the President on gun control, jobs, and health care.

    April 10, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  22. chunkm

    I do not want to live on this planet anymore.

    April 10, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  23. Tracey

    Unless they had access to government secrets, we have more important things to worry about than what two entertainers did on their dime and time.

    April 10, 2013 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  24. Capone

    If someone wants to travel to Cuba, then they should be allowed to do so.

    The idea that we have to continue this severely antiquated embargo because the Cuban government oppresses their people is beyond hypocritical and ridiculous.

    This nation, the United States, has a long history of financially supporting dictators around the globe, most of which do or did the exact thing that the U.S. accuses Cuba of doing.

    China, a communist nation who also happens to be America's largest trading partner, has been accused numerous times of human rights violations. That has not stopped the U.S. from trading with China, nor does it prevent me from traveling to China on vacation.

    This isn't the 1960's anymore. Get over it.

    April 10, 2013 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  25. Josh Lee

    Yes when I celebrate my anniversary with my wife – it is with large crowds of people following us around and engaging in public events. That totally sounds like a wedding anniversary.

    April 10, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
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