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. Elena Holub

    Sooo, why can they and I can not????

    April 6, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  2. Vickie

    This is really what Republican lawmakers are concerned about and spending their time on? They should ask themselves are they really representing all of their constituents focusing on this issue. I am sure the citizens of Florida have bigger issues of concern, I know the rest of the country does.

    April 6, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  3. Az

    Two Obama confidants and ambassadors of the Ultra Left Obama regime establishing a dialog with Castro. Simple.Obama does not like America as it was or as it is and is working very hard at change.

    April 6, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  4. Marie MD

    This is news because?

    April 6, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  5. Jacqui

    This is all nonsense. Why do congressmen go to China? Why are people being so silly? The government of Cuba may be doing wrong to their people, but are the majority of the people bad?

    I have always felt that embargoes do not affect the people in authority, but, the regular people who find it much more difficult to get their stories out. It hurts them more because whatever little gets through to the country, those in authority always commandeer, and the regular folks still want for more.

    Then again, JayZ and Beyonce have a right to go wherever they might wish to on this earth, which belongs to God Almighty. If you want to take this stand, then tell all the congressmen to stop going to China and all those other countries where there are serious problems with human rights issues too.

    April 6, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  6. Ocean

    "Why did they go to Cuba"??
    Because they could!! (And did)

    April 6, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  7. bman

    I think Beyonce wails too much when she sings, don't know what Jay-Z does, But I'll tell you this: Cuba is a beautiful country, and we should keep the embargo, so there is one pristine place left on this earth that people with Cajones can visit if they have a mind to and are respectful of the people and culture...

    April 6, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  8. Jeffrey

    Should have gone to Vietnam. Or China. Maybe Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Russia, United Arab Emirates, or any of a number of other nations with questionable politics where US citizens can travel without folks in South Florida tuning their crank meter up to 12.

    April 6, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  9. Kelly51

    If you're an entertainer you are welcome to visit our Capitol and anywhere you wish. If you're just a plain old American? You're just a taxpaying entity with no real purpose other than to line silk pockets.

    April 6, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  10. AC Clark

    OVer one hundred thousand Americans travel to Cuba every year - that was the case even when travel was severely restricted during the Bush years, etc. The number is surely much higher now that the travel ban has eased. So this quote from the article is pretty inaccurate. Millions of 'Americans have travelled to Cuba in recent years/decades. Tens of millions even. The whole Cuban economy survives because of US dollars and euros. The economy is based on dollars. "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."

    April 6, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. Maren

    Yes. Let's waste money investigating this. Good call.

    April 6, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  12. Carioline

    Yeah, I expected them to go to Chicago or Detroit. Oh now I get it, Cuba is more luxurious.
    Secondly, being rich does not keep you from being stupid!

    April 6, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  13. Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

    Please keep the embargo, including the restrictions on Americans traveling there, in place. Anything to keep American tourists from ruining it.

    April 6, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  14. Balls of Steel

    The restriction needs to stop. Get over it, Castro does not pose any threat to the US.

    April 6, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. Dysnomia1

    Why did Beyonce and Jay-Z go to Cuba? Maybe it's because they wanted to, dammit! Why is there so much media coverage about this?

    April 6, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  16. skipper_sam

    I am tired of these cowards who fled Cuba rather than fight for freedom.

    Think of George Washington in Kentucky wailing against the British !

    April 6, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  17. Jephar

    Who really cares, leave them alone and let them enjoy their time together

    April 6, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  18. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    More from Republican Cubanos who plan on heading back as soon as Fidel is dead and Raul has left for Spain.

    April 6, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  19. bob martin

    i thought we were a country of freedom. maybe not. been to cuba 3 times in the last 20 years loved going back soon

    April 6, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  20. Randy, San Francisco

    Investigation would be a waste of tax payer's money. Reminiscent of the McCarthy anti-American communist witch hunt of the 1950s.

    April 6, 2013 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  21. Bootstomper

    Thank god all of those old Cubans in Miami are getting old.

    April 6, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  22. Pumbaa

    There is NO logical reason why any American can't go to Cuba. Americans can go to Communist China and Vietnam. Obama it is time to normalize relations with Cuba and help move it to a free market society.

    April 6, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  23. oldleftcoastdude

    Even if they did go there "illegally", because of their notoriety and celebrity, nothing will happen to them. And even if the govt. were to fine them, it's 10,000.00 apiece, which is "chump change" to them.

    April 6, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  24. Ida

    That's wonderful, Beyonce and Jay-z went to Cuba to get away.

    April 6, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  25. Jarhead4life

    Why is there always double standards for the rich & celebrities? If the average person were to have gone to Cuba, they would be busted and tossed into jail immediately. And even when the rich & celebrities do get arrested, they get bs community service, or duck into a country club drug rehab to dodge the charges completely. I'm sure since these two are pals with Obama they will slide right through this.

    April 6, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
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