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. AthensGuy

    Oh, those GOP guys... always looking for a TV screen moment... if they would just focus on jobs, economy and the budget...

    April 10, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  2. Mateo808

    Why does the US restrict travel anywhere? Where I wont to travel to as a US citizen is no one else's business but mine! Who do we think we are? Communist USSR? I think restricting travel anywhere is downright unconstitutional, and these GOP guys should know better since they are the ones always blathering on about nanny states! Yes if I'm entering the country from my trip abroad, feel free to quire me at that point, but to tell me I can't go some place? Forget that!

    April 10, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  3. Odo

    HA! Yeah...GOP.... let's investigate the Obama supporters trip but ignore all the real problems we have....

    April 10, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  4. Anonymous

    What do you expect. They are good friends with the POTUS and that wife of his. Liberal, snob, elitists. They do what they want, when they want.

    April 10, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  5. HK

    Why are republicans so primitive?

    April 10, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  6. Wake up People!

    What about the jobs??? They were cleared prior. End of story. Move on and do some real work. Btw, is it ok to visit North Korea??

    April 10, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  7. MarkinFL

    Frankly, engagement is LONG overdue. The communist threat is OVER. Open exchange is the best solution. Its been 50 years and I think a different approach might just be in order since you could only call something that has not worked after 50 years an abject failure.

    April 10, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  8. Sharron Needles

    Agreed. This was a vacation with approval from uncle Barry......

    April 10, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  9. Moonshyne

    I can travel, tour, live in, do business with China and Vietnam, countries we fought. They're communist. Back in the old days, when they were pointing missles at us, I could do the same with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Yet Cuba, the country that has done nothing to us, is forbidden. Is the Cuban-American (who should be more worried about the USA) lobby that rich and influential?

    April 10, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  10. Gary

    Americans, we are free, but you're not allowed to go to Cuba, Cuba bad... Don't you know? They are bad people... Yah, a tiny little Communistic Island with let see how many missles and WMD do they have? Remindes me more liek the US is in a spiteful relationship that went sour and a grudge than some evil nation were are dealing with...

    April 10, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  11. Mike Wallace

    The anti-freedom, pro-big government Republicans are at it again.....

    April 10, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  12. CTConservative

    Party with the President ? Here's some free passes to Cuba ! Just another example of this "the laws of the land don't apply to us" administration.

    April 10, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  13. davesop2

    Again the elite of our country do what ever they want. A continuation of those in power exercising their will in spite of laws or other constraints imposed on the rest of us mere mortals.

    April 10, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  14. Ed

    How about our members of congress focus on the important issues! How much time and money of OURS did they waste by worrying about the trivial items, when yet they can't get simple legislation passed!

    April 10, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  15. Say What?

    clearly, we need to end the ban. Its gone on too long and really hasnt done anything but to hurt the people

    April 10, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  16. Kjohnson

    So what they were cleared to take the trip, just envy and jealous people using their title to justify their actions. For those who are so concern plan and take your own vacation and so what you taking. Who cares. Who does that

    April 10, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  17. Mudshark

    Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen need to get a life.

    April 10, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  18. tjh0325

    Cultural/education trip BS it is a vacation for them. The rules don't apply to the ultra-rich.

    April 10, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  19. Joi Gibson

    Why didn't she complain about other celebrities who traveled to Cuba in 2009, 2010, 2011? What a hypocrite!!!!!
    They were approved to go – give it a rest already.

    April 10, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  20. whiteamerican

    These republican idiots in congress and the senate, Don't they know we need them to focus on more important things such as the budget, North Korea, Education, erosion of civil liberties in some states. The GOPS are making American politics look like a story from a third world 18th century country. What a bunch of fools!

    April 10, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  21. Freedom of Speech

    Let me take this one: Umm... For the SAME reasons "EARNEST HEMMINGWAY" lived in CUBA – "JAY-Z" & "BEYONCE" went there because it's a lovely island with a number of fine resorts, especially catering to the rich. There, asked and answered. All I can say is these Republican. Tea Party, rightwing, anti-American, racist, Cuban, domestic terrorist living is South Florida, better not spend one penny of REAL AMERICAN taxpayers money on an "investigation" of REAL AMERICANS like "JAY-Z" and "BEYONCE" – If they do they should be arrested and put on trial for treason against the United States Of America. – Hope "JAY-Z" is enjoying his CUBAN cigars. – WHY does the media pretend that this small group of crazy CUBAN’S living in Florida of all places somehow speaks for Latin Americans? They speak for a small minority of extreme, right wing, racist, CUBAN expatriates, that live in South Florida – PERIOD! So come on media enough is enough – STOP pretending these rightwing, CUBAN extremist speak, or in any way reflect the views of Mexican Americans or Puerto Rican American – THEY DON'T – The CUBANS in Miami hate other Hispanic cultures – they even hate the CUBAN'S living in CUBA – The "REAL CUBAN'S" live in CUBA not Florida. – The CUBAN'S living in Florida do not reflect the Latin American experience at all – MEXICAN AMERICAN'S remember the Alamo – CUBAN immigrants (at least the ones living in Florida) fondly remember, and love, – Batista regime corruption, rightwing death squads, The Mafia, illegal kick backs, slot machines, drugs, prostitution, and the White, Gringo, Gangster, owned Casinos – That's their vision of CUBA! Most CUBAN immigrants living in Florida want to be White not Latino. These right-wing Florida, fascist, Anti-American Freedom & Democracy, Florida CUBAN'S need to focus on American issues instead of using their position to personally try to attack the CUBAN people and their Government. We are allowed to travel to China a country that eats Dogs and Cats, and guns down its own people in Tiananmen Square, – China is the biggest human rights violator, and communist country, out there, so what's wrong with going to CUBA? Way to go BEYONCE, and JAY-Z – Enjoy your CUBAN rum, and bring home some CUBAN cigars...

    April 10, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. oldswede

    America's Big Sugar Cartel doesn't want competition from the Cuban farmers. This is the real reason for the embargo. Not the faded threat of communism.

    April 10, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. SeeThruIt2

    Some of you argue "what's the big deal?" or "It's noboby's busness where I travel."

    A U.S. citizen is charged with drug smuggling in Singapore and sentenced to prison or flogging. A U.S. reporter is taken prisoner in Iran and charged as a spy. A U.S. businessman is taken prisoner in Cuba and charged as a spy In 2009, two U.S. reporters were taken prisoner at the border of North Korea and charged as spies, requiring Bill Clinton to go there to gain their release..

    In all of these cases, people go to the U.S. government asking for the State Department to intervene and get their relatives out of the mess they've created.

    The U.S. State Department has some travel warnings and restrictions to prevent all U.S. citizens from being harmed by the actions of those few who think they can go anywhere and do anything they choose. (Why not travel to North Korea right now to be charged with spying and used as a human shield?)

    April 10, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  24. roger

    Of course they had the blessing of our government. They were big contributors to Obama. I wouldn't be surprised if they were both named for different posts in the government. What a crock.

    April 10, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  25. Al-NY,NY

    more time wasted by tightie righties trying to make the president look bad......what a shock. Oh well attempt? You've got egg on your face AGAIN

    April 10, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
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