Cubans welcome Beyonce and Jay-Z
April 9th, 2013
08:10 PM ET
1 year 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. summer dawson

    our Treasury Dept. has time to look this stuff up. they don't have anything else to do.

    April 10, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Thank you CNN for at least publishing the story."

    Yeah. Whatever. It's been a "hot" thread on the ticker for days now. I can't imagine why.

    April 10, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  3. Sandy

    From the Washington Post:
    "When Sean Penn went to Cuba to interview Raul Castro in 2008 the world shrugged: Of course Sean Penn went to Cuba! Danny Glover, it seems, goes there all the time with little fuss. Jim Belushi even served as guest of honor at a cigar industry event in Havana last year."

    "But Jim Belushi, it goes without saying, is no Beyoncé or Jay-Z, whose fifth-anniversary trip last week is slowly becoming an international incident."
    _______________

    Why wasn't there outrage by republicans when other celebrities went to Cuba? We know the answer, because Beyonce and Jay Z are friends of the President.

    April 10, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. Sandy

    From the Washington Post:
    "When Sean Penn went to Cuba to interview Raul Castro in 2008 the world shrugged: Of course Sean Penn went to Cuba! Danny Glover, it seems, goes there all the time with little fuss. Jim Belushi even served as guest of honor at a cigar industry event in Havana last year."

    "But Jim Belushi, it goes without saying, is no Beyoncé or Jay-Z, whose fifth-anniversary trip last week is slowly becoming an international incident."

    Why wasn't there outrage by republicans when other celebrities went to Cuba? We know the answer, because Beyonce and Jay Z are friends of the President

    April 10, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. Some people...

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

    I take it this is a joke?

    April 10, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. lap127

    I think the more important question is "What in the world is that on top of her head?"

    April 10, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. Sharon J.

    Any American can travel to Cuba with a tour group. They build in the cultural and educational activities, which most "tourists" want to see anyway, so there was nothing illegal about this trip. If not, you can apply for a travel license through OFAC yourself and explain why you're going as an educator, journalist or medical person. Also, any American with family in Cuba can travel there anytime they want and their significant other that they live with can travel with them without a special license. I called OFAC myself when I was planning a trip there. So people need to do their own research before posting comments that Jay Z and Beyonce did something outside the law.

    April 10, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. Anthony in California

    @dominican mama against obama
    If it is against the law to visit Cuba, then Boyonce and Jay Z broke the law–no matter how much money they have and how many good obama contacts they have.

    If you don't like the law, CHANGE IT, don't break

    simple answer : It is NOT ILLEGAL.
    move along people, nothing to see here.....

    April 10, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. Anthony in California

    Is CHINA any less Communist than Cuba? Because we can sure visit that place for smog filled vacations...
    Have Republicans made a fuss about all the other Americans visiting Cuba on a regular? Nope.

    These Republican guys have become a running joke...

    April 10, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. Anthony in California

    @steve
    total joke
    buddies of obozo
    glad he will be out in a few more years

    funny how people like you were saying President Obama was a one term President.
    I dont hear many Jimmy Carter references anymore either. Bang up job Republicans did with helping this country recover, but here you are insulting the President.

    April 10, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. Ridicule

    I dont know about you but its been a while since I have tough about Cuba and even if activist are saying it is outrageous for Beyonce and Jay-Z to be there, the fact is their cause has received more attention than ever.... just saying!

    April 10, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  12. Mike Wallace

    "Some people...

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

    I take it this is a joke?
    "

    Totally serious, actually. Republicans are, by and large, big proponents of over reaching government.

    April 10, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  13. Steve

    How dare they go to Cuba and even spend a nickle, when Castro won't let big sugar use Cubans for slave labor.

    April 10, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. jcrew

    These Miami Cuban refugees (meaning the 2 congressmen) will not ,
    I repeat ,Not ,tell Americans who were born in this country .
    where they can travel .

    April 10, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. Jerry

    Enough is enough. It is time to end the silly embargo and let all Americans go to Cuba and enjoy all the Island has to offer just like anyone from any other country in the world get to do.

    April 10, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  16. Charles

    These were the same Americans (who were not born in Cuba) that called Mandela a terrorist because he visited Cuba. They need to worry about little Cuba in Miami.

    April 10, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
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