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. Anonymous

    Just goes to show the mentality of those Republican Cubanos in Miami.

    April 7, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  2. Artie

    Doesn't the current administration have bigger fish to fry? Seriously, I think trying to solve unemployment and North Korea seem more of threat than two morons wasting their money in a country that the government doesn't like.

    April 7, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. bob

    get off it Ileana.. just trying to hold on to your electoral as hard as u can... no one gives a dang about Cuba anymore... seriously.. let them have communism if they want it... isnt it all about choice? if you really cared you wpould be worrying about Syria

    April 7, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  4. bob

    last time I checked, Castro isnt whacking people on a daily basis these days

    April 7, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  5. e

    they're going on a holiday to celebrate their wedding anniversary, not going to Cuba specifically to fund Cuban regimes against the US – get a real problem!

    April 7, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  6. Jon

    If you want to complain about, fine, jail, or do whatever you want to do to Jay-Z and Beyounce then you need to do the same to all the Cuba Americans sending millions of US dollars to their Cuban relatives every year. Until that money is taken out of the system, no change will occur. By the way, why don't we have the same policy regarding China and Vietnam? Perhaps because the US economy relies on those countries. Goes to show that our policy of ignoring Cuba has done nothing to create change. All we are really doing is waiting for an old regime to die out, and then home that will create change. My guess would those are the same people who still believe in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny.

    April 7, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  7. Dark side of the Planet

    I do believe it was President Kennedy who order the sanctions on Cuba. So I don't know why would Wise 1Speak would get confused about all this. Read your history books first young man.

    April 7, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  8. pinakbet

    Why am I not surprise this stupid couple would go to a place like Cuba to celebrate their anniversary?

    1. Let's not forget she's pretty dumb and uneducated. She can be had for a few cool million dollars, heck, she's already sold her soul to the devil. Yeah, she was paid and bought for by a son of Osama bin Laden to sing him Happy Birthday. Then when that made headlines, she wanted to act dumb like she didn't know she was singing for the bin Laden family.

    2. Let's not forget folks, these J and Bey aren't the most educated when it comes to worldly smarts. Apparently they didn't pay attention in history class that Cuba was off limits to Americans. Even rich folks can be DUMB.

    April 7, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  9. pinakbet

    Cuba, please keep jay and his wife there.

    April 7, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  10. bman

    Cuba is a beautiful culturally rich island. I'm glad there are restriction to keep most culturaly blind and ethnocentric americans away. I hope this couple enjoyed their stay, since they had the courage to go there despite the restrictions.

    April 7, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  11. DinGA

    So.....we can travel to China, North Korea, Iran, Columbia, etc........ but Cuba is still a big "no-no"? How does that make sense, again?

    April 7, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  12. lj

    I'd like to go to Cuba. Why do we care they went to Cuba? Find something else to report.

    April 7, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  13. docfred01

    Who cares!!!! It's easy to go to Cuba. Enter from another country!!!! This is so stupid. Only Miami has a problem with it. These people come in as they please, but America allows the haitians to drown because one is Cubans come to escape an oppressive regime, and Haitians come for economic reasons. THEY BOTH COME FOR ECONOMIC REASONS!!!
    America needs to stop the nonsense and stop listening to the Cuban clowns. The Cuban Missile crisis has been over. the Cold War is over. Wake up!!!!!!!

    April 7, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  14. DanielinAZ

    @ m steve- the Barcardi family moved the factory to Puerto Rico after Fidel took over Cuba. All Bacardi Rum is manufactured in Puerto Rico now. That's why they label says Puerto Rican Rum on it. Bacardi is not even sold in Cuba anymore.

    April 7, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  15. Ryan

    Who cares

    As far as supporting a regime that does bad things, I guess Americans shouldn't be allowed to travel to Israel, China, Egypt(anywhere in the middle-east) India, South Africa, etc. There are plenty of regimes that do and have done terrible things, America included.

    Again, if someone wants to travel somewhere, they do so at their own risk, not the governments place to get involved there.

    April 7, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  16. james

    We do business with china, Vietnam, the dictatiorshp of Russia....and people are complaining about Cub?. We are not threatened but CUBA.....we are threatened by the real commie countries listed above. The embargo only serves as a convenient "I'm tough on communism" for republican politicians in the florida to garner votes from the near extinct first flight Cubans in the 50's and 60's. Soon they will need to find another reason to make a pariah country of Cuba. I say ignore cuba and let their people figure out a way out of the mess they got themselves in. 50 tears ago.

    April 7, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  17. Nat

    They should be fined to make an example out of them. Being a "star" does not make you above the law.

    April 7, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  18. gazort.tx

    I was there in'97
    Beautiful Island, beautiful people
    We can go to Vietnam where 50,000 +
    Americans died.......can't go 90 miles offshore
    where some very connected special interest groups lost some $$ in the60's
    Step into the 21st century.......?

    April 7, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  19. Ken

    60 years of these restrictions on Cuba hasn't accomplished anything. When are Cuban-Americans going to get it that they're never going to recover the wealth and property that was lost when Castro came to power. They were the elite few that owned everything and the many owned nothing. In other woeds, they were the 1%'ers.

    April 7, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  20. dt

    why can I go to American airline and buy a ticket to IRAN but I can't buy a ticket to Cuba ?

    April 7, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  21. John john the pipers son

    everyone else in the world goes to Cuba why not them.

    April 7, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  22. John john the pipers son

    if we are the land of the free why are we the only ones in the world who are not allowed to go to Cuba?

    April 7, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  23. skipper_sam

    How many American solders have Cuban soldiers killed in last 65 years ?

    Compare that to how many American solders did China kill in last 65 years ?

    Yet Americans are free to travel and do business with China

    Btw who is North Korea's main ally again ? I will give you a hint.. its not Cuba

    April 7, 2013 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  24. buongiorno

    i think that times are changing when us citezins go to a country that is Socialist and clearly no american was treated with respect in the sense that they would or should feel safe YES I WOULD QUESTION WHAT ARE THEY DOING THERE WE WANT TO KNOW!

    April 8, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  25. Frank92

    The fact that the embargo was placed to oust the castros from power, and after 5 decades they are still there!... The embargo, is causing more harm to the PEOPLE of CUBA then actually helping them... IN SHORT THE EMBARGO FAILED!

    April 8, 2013 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
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