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. ST

    Here are my questions: while in Cuba, did they meet Fidel Castro? did they shake hands with him? did they invite him to come and visit them in US? I presume all answers are A BIG NO. Where is the problem then for them going there?

    April 7, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. NorCalMojo

    The foreign posters are showing their usual ignorance of America. They imagine all Americans with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other. Pretty ironic that they're engaging in the same xenophobic overgeneralizations they love to criticize Americans about.

    Here's the real story, America-haters.

    The reason that there are still sanctions is because the people who Castro dispossessed live in a populous swing state and vote religiously. That means that this single issue could win or lose a presidential election.

    So save your attacks for Florida Cubans. The rest of America couldn't care less about it.

    April 7, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Corker

    What ? Why is it that every single country in the world visits CUBA except the USA... The following countries do not restrict thier citizens from travelleing anywhere in the word: Britain, France, Germany , Canada , Brazil, Australia, New Zealand , South Africa. Think about it.... We who are free to travel to CUBA do not need an educational component to our travel rights. SHAME on your claim to freedom.

    April 7, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. Jackie

    So, do you get to break the law because you are a celebrity?

    April 7, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. brian

    Why not? We were free to go to Cuba back when our government backed the dictator Batista. In international affairs hypocrisy is considered a virtue.

    April 7, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. JOSH

    Cubans leave their country because they are being persecuted by Castro government who violates every human right. They came looking for freedom in America and three months later they are returning to the Inferno as tourists boasting their new style of life to their family and friends.

    April 7, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. Lavrentii

    The hypocrisy of US foreign policy is not hard to understand when one sees that since 1900 it is based on protecting wealth and priveledge wherever it exists in the world- Catholic suckups to French colonialists in Vietnam, the "Six Families" who own El Salvador, etc. etc... Pure right-wing handbook.

    Sure, there were some middle class that lost out in the Cuban Revolution, but it is the plantation and casino owners who have, along with our own economic elites, bought and own our US government and command it to protect property everywhere. It is crystal clear that our official policy is to install private wealth protecting, right-wing dictators everywhere.

    April 7, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. boogertree

    It's simple, these low life celebrities think they are above "normal people" and can do whatever they want.

    April 7, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. JOSH

    Voters in Miami should throw them out of politics, they are a disgrace

    April 7, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. strandedinIA

    I would love to go to Cuba, my grandparents were born in Havana and left in the 40's. They always wanted to go back and see family but never got the chance before they died. I also think it is time for the sanctions to be lifted if we can do business with China and Saudi Arabia we can go to Cuba.

    April 7, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. Secret squirrel

    I'm so sick of the whole Cuban boycot crap. We can travel to every country in the world except Cuba, how dumb is this? The same politicians keeping the Cuban policy in place will be the same one's telling us to spend billions to help the Cuban people once the Castro's are gone. If we stop our destructive policy then Cuba can start building itself up now.

    April 7, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. McBob79

    Of course Americans were going there before "revolution". This is nothing more than a 2 bit banana republic and it will not be democratized by giving in to ruthless dictator. We've grid that and it doesn't work for those of you uninformed.

    April 7, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. power4things

    Option B – flood the island with Americans – McDonalds, Wal-Marts, new cars – there won't be a commie left in 6 months.

    April 7, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. HenkV

    Why they went to cuba? They are on a mission from the democrats to assure eleven million Cubans that once Castro dies they will be all welcome in Florida. Just sign on the 'lifelong democrat voter' dotted line.

    April 7, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. Doreen Grace

    This country is a democracy, keep your dictatorial behavior to yourselves. We are free do you get that to travel where we will. Investigate how many Cubans have travelled to Cuba.

    April 7, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. Ross Strickland

    Canadians love to travel to Cuba, if the Americans were allowed to travel there then that would be great.

    April 7, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Ann

    It's about time this severely out-dated policy is put to rest. Ordinary, innocent Cubans starve while they have perfectly good sugar (and excellent cigars) to trade, because we are against a communist dictator who embarrassed the U.S. government in the early 60s. Really? Let's not forget it was JFK who sent in the CIA to invade and try to overthrow a government the citizens wanted at the time.

    April 7, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Rachel

    I wonder how dems feel about their 1% reps going to Cuba and schmoozing with the communists? All these two did was make fools of themselves.

    April 7, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. Blooganblogin

    The last thing Cuba needs or wants are a bunch of dirty Americans going there. Cuba is one of the few places our family can go that is free of boorish, rude, uneducated, fat Americans. We have been vacationing in Cuba for years, mainly because we don't travel where there are Americans. Once you have a destination infested with Americans it is destroyed. They leave garbage everywhere, bring boom boxes and play loud music on the beach or at the pool, they relieve themselves in the pool and hot tubs etc. The last thing you want when on a relaxing vacation is a bunch or even one , disgusting American.

    April 7, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. Tvalenz

    Aside from the sanctions that the US put on Cuba what is annoying is celebrities thinking they are above the government and society. I am tired of celebrities getting a get outta jail free card b/c they're famous. Also how celebrities label them selves as philanthropist but only "donate" money for tax breaks.

    April 7, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. Fourleaf Tayback

    Another example of Limousine Liberals at their finest. Obama makes exceptions for the 1% again.

    April 7, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. Randall

    If this would have been Donald Trump would these two lawmakers rasied the issue. Doubtful.

    April 7, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. mike

    If you listen to some of Jay z's lyrics, there's a clear sympathy for marxist ideas. THAT is why he is in Cuba.

    He's an ignoramus clown who got influenced by the radical liberals he seems to work with.

    April 7, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Marco Santos

    America... land of the free... yeah right.

    April 7, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Bobby

    Some members of Congress still live in the past. They can not comprehend modern day realities. Like slavery is over or the Internet is always on. Newspaper as mainstream media is dead. The first Castro regime is gone. The second Castro regime will soon be gone. Cuba is almost already free. The day the US stops the nonsense of the embargo, the Communists will have no crutches and restrictions will go into the dustbins of history.

    April 7, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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