April 6th, 2013
04:49 PM ET
8 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. Butcher of Texas

    The US could easily change the Cuban regime into capitalist by pouring into a lot of money.

    April 7, 2013 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  2. Anonymous

    the cuban embargo and the cuban travel restrictions are nosensical and rediculous. If the United States is so keen on civil liberties, on freedom and the upression of it's citizens bythe cuban goverment and that alone are the reasons for the continuation of it; then it is time we placed a similar embargo on China.

    April 7, 2013 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  3. PoBoy

    Another example of our Congressmen focusing on the wrong things. Besides, the Cuba policy is asinine at best. Why aren't we barring citizens from traveling to Communist China?

    April 7, 2013 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  4. No Common-Sense Found

    And it's hilarious that a country which claim's to be all about freedom and complains about the lack thereof in Cuba, demonstrates their distaste of such oppression by banning travel to and building a prison there.

    April 7, 2013 02:11 am at 2:11 am |

    With any luck, maybe they'll stay there.......

    April 7, 2013 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  6. Thomas

    While I disagree with the State Department's policy on travel in Cuba I'm glad to see that they're at least fair in the restrictions; it's far too common in this country for people to get special treatment simply because they're well known.

    April 7, 2013 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  7. cris

    mad because they couldn't go

    April 7, 2013 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  8. cjacja

    The travel ban is unenforceable. You can get from the US to Cuba be first stopping off at a free country, like Mexico.

    The law is counter productive. The way you defeat a totalitarian country is to make its people rich. Dump a ton of money into Cuba and then the people start demanding things of their government. Rich citizens will buy satellite TV, cell phones and will travel to Europe and the US and learn about the world. This is the reason the North Korean government keeps its people poor.

    April 7, 2013 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  9. Awesome

    We are a free country, why should anyone be stopped from going on a vacation to celebrate their wedding anniversary? The government should be working on other issues like:
    a. Listening to Ron Paul and getting rid of Federal Reserve and solving the financial crisis.
    b. Banning companies like Monsanto from adding GMO to agricultural products and labeling them.
    c. Reversing the get out of jail free card to companies like Monsanto by passing legislation without consent in spite of over 100,000 people calling the White House to not sign that law entered into the bill anonymously by one of the Congressmen who took bribes from Monsanto.
    d. FDA banning artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame and Neotame and others without reasonable testing which they approved because of the influence of insiders hired by them such as Michael Taylor who is a Monsanto's henchman. Several PHD's and scientists from top Universities have tested to prove the dangers of artificial sweeteners to human brain and animals.
    e. Bailing out American citizens from financial problems instead of giving free bailouts to Banks. If the government forgave banks from debt, then forgive every Americans debt. Is the government elected by the people working for the people or is it working for banks instead and doesn't care about the people who elected them.
    f. Privacy in communication for every every American as a part of freedom of speech. Banning any and all government agencies from illegally spying on American citizens social networking websites, phones and internet.
    g. Funding American schools and giving more teachers paid jobs and training to give better education and creating job opportunities to veterans instead of giving billions of dollars of aid to countries like Israel whom they gave $4 Billion+ just use the money to buy weapons to cause more bloodshed.
    h. There are thousand of things the government can be doing to better the country than wasting their time on harassing a couple from visiting Cuba for an anniversary vacation.

    April 7, 2013 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  10. Brian

    I LOVE THIS! I think it is ridiculous that we cannot go to Cuba!! We cannot go because of the communist dictatorship, yet we are heavily dependent on China!? Even if it's because of the Cuban Missile Crisis yet we are kind of friends with Russia, but not Cuba?

    We are Americans! We should be able to go to wherever we please as long as that country shall have us! How can the government try and tell me as a free human being that I cannot go to another country simply because I want to experience the culture? Because I want to see the sites? Maybe I want to move there, that is not for my government to tell me whether or not it's allowed!

    I hope they get charged for this, honestly. I hope Jay Z and Beyonce will fight the charges, have them taken to the supreme court, and have this idiotic law taken off the books!

    But I secretly think it's some illuminati stuff going down...

    April 7, 2013 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  11. 276

    the gov. is becoming more socialistic by the day

    April 7, 2013 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  12. Jamie Foxer

    I DOUBLE TRIPLE QUADRUPLE dare the U.S. government to prosecute Beyonce and Jay-Z for this. PLEEEEAAASE.

    So that we can make it a heavily reported, heavily discussed issue...so that all of Jay Z and Beyonce's fans can pronounce themselves HEAVILY against the embargo and so we can have Beyonce and Jay Z take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and they can strike the Embargo down.

    YES, PLEAAASE...make an issue of this, Republican Lawmakers....MAKE OUR DAY!

    April 7, 2013 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  13. Every Story Has 2 Sides

    This is ridiculous. They are not on US soil, the US gov't has no right to tell anyone where they can go or what they can do once you are no longer in the country. Also chances are they converted their US currency before they went to cuba anyway so technically they are not spending US dollars. If the US gov't is so concerned about spending money in a repressive or communist nation then all political and economic ties need to be cut with 25% of the world. All we here about is how the government is making things worse for the Cuban people. Well I was just over there on a People to People visit and I can say that the embargo is BS. Anything you can get tin the US you can get there except for fast food (thank god) To be honest what the US is doing is only hurting the people more then the government. which is trying to make an effort to improve their infrastructure and buy denying them basic materials to do so only hurts the individuals not the regime. Maybe if the feds would spend more time analyzing how to make things better for our own people and less on what another country is dong things would be a lot better. But for the most part so long as I am not killing people or trying to undermine my home country in some way shape or form it is none of the gov't business what I do on my own time. If they care so much they why can people still travel to Iran or North Korea! Get a life Federal Government and stop wasting our tax dollars on pathetically outdated policy!

    April 7, 2013 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  14. carlos

    Two Republican need to mind there business .. It there money , they can do whatever they want . they paid there taxes and they didn't do nothing wrong. they just jealousy because they couldn't take the trip .

    April 7, 2013 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  15. Non factor

    It takes republicans to sieze upon this. Of course! They are Big Obama supporters. Nothing else but that

    I have family members who have visited their in Cuba within the last five years on vacation. Was no problem.

    The Righties just want to make more waves. As I said above, Beyonce and Jay-Z are big Obama supporters.

    April 7, 2013 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  16. GI Joe

    The are on vacation AGAIN instead of being in D.C doing their jobs, yet they find the time to police U.S. Citizens on personal travel.

    Vote them out in 2014. No one died and made them travel police.

    April 7, 2013 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  17. giovani

    Strange that Western Union enables any person to send money to Cuba, why don't they stop that then?

    April 7, 2013 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  18. georgieporgie

    What happened to the so called big goverment argument...Trying to tell American citizens where to travel...Im so sick of politicians that I wish they all get on a plane and crash in an ocean..

    April 7, 2013 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  19. Keller

    I wonder if these Republicans realize how they live in a world where they constantly contradict themselves.

    We need less government and more freedom! Unless it involves traveling to Cuba then the government can mettle in your affairs.

    April 7, 2013 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  20. mwenje ruth

    they had no negative intension.did they?n r they dead?no they r'n't.so thats asign its ok for any american to go to cuba

    April 7, 2013 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  21. AleihsCross

    no to tourism? wow! never heard a country except this one that says no to tourism..

    April 7, 2013 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  22. ericgoestoholland

    probably to roll some cigars.
    or maybe they're secretly cuban spies.
    i'll be the first to say that i would not see that one coming.

    April 7, 2013 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  23. Jeb

    Why should we, as freedom loving Americans, be prohibited from traveling to any country we wish?

    Cuba is no threat to the U.S. and the embargo only punishes the Cuban people and not the government.

    April 7, 2013 05:23 am at 5:23 am |
  24. Mike

    The Cuban travel restrictions are hypocrisy at it's finest. You can legally travel to North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, etc. but god forbid you support those evil Cubans.

    April 7, 2013 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  25. Andi

    So the US government can tell its citizens where they may or may not go to? Sounds like Soviet Russia.

    April 7, 2013 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
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