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. Robert

    Of course they're rich so they really couldn't care about the atrocities this regime has put upon it's people, the poor. Enjoy your cigar Jay exactly what we expect you to do.

    April 6, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  2. Erik

    Stupid. The right to travel is a part of the liberty of which a citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment.

    April 6, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  3. Tony in St. Louis

    If republican lawmakers would spend more time actually trying to get something positive done, than chasing "trivial" non-sense, our country could be a much better place for everyone! Republicans appear completely out of touch with reality. The idiots in the party are out pacing those with common sense and logic.

    April 6, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  4. L

    Well rules are rules, even celebrities are not above them, Nor can they disregard them whenever they feel like it!

    April 6, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  5. Tatiana Covington

    Why did they go to Cuba? Because they felt like going to Cuba. Everyone else can just butt out.


    April 6, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  6. CMI

    Oh my God, it been over 50 years. When will these dinosaurs drop this cold war claptrap about the "regime"? We trade with Red China and communist Vietnam. There is absolutely nothing "common-sense" about this tired ancient, foolish and failed anti-Cuba paranoia.

    April 6, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. Beyonce

    I Love them <3

    April 6, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. Andrew

    i've heard older people talk about vacationing on Cuba. I think it's time they lift some restrictions so people can vacation on cuba again.

    April 6, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  9. NewMexico720

    They went cause they are rich and famous and the laws of the U.S. does not apply to rich people with fame. It only applies to the unknown middle class.

    April 6, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  10. javierortiz

    Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart are the living probe of the illegal BLOCKADE that U.S. helds against Cuba. They are stood at the Cold War mental stage. Americans should have the freedom to travel to Cuba without any restrictions and see with their own eyes how is this island. The Castro's question is a matter that only concerned to those Cubans who live in Cuba and none else. Raul Castro is the elected President of Cuba and he only has to respond to Cubans citizen.

    April 6, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  11. Tyshawn

    Oh my god who cares!!!??? Why is this widespred attention!!?? Like they are the only couple that gets negetive press for no reason. I can see if they we're cocky arrogant etc. Or attention whores like the kardashian family but they are ginuwinley good people at least to me. Yet so much negetivity is shown to them we have north korea ready to nuke at any moment yet we're concerned about what a power couple is doing in cuba ? So sad we need to pull our head outta our asses as a nation and worry about bigger fish to fry!!!

    April 6, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  12. JFetch

    The cold war is over. Castro can't hurt anyone anymore. It's time to let it go.

    April 6, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  13. gogeorgia

    Guess Beyoncé and Jay-Z think that they're exempt from the laws that other Americans must adhere to.

    April 6, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  14. mateo

    While the reason for the Cuban embargo seems plausible, it is a dinosaur relic of the Cold War. Republicans and the Castro's both love the embargo because they both can rally against the "enemy" and stay in power at the cost of millions of Cubans, The Soviet Union didn't fall because of an embargo or military threat. It fell because of the movement of people and ideas. BTW you can get Louisiana Tabasco sauce in Havana. Stop the nonsense.

    April 6, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  15. Tim

    Because Rodman had already taken North Korea?

    April 6, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  16. bruce t

    I'd sure love to go to Cuba...to score a 57 Ford, or two...I'd bring along a few newer cars to swap.

    April 6, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  17. DADA

    "which ruthlessly suppresses the most basic liberties of speech, assembly, and belief,”

    Lmaoo. Meanwhile the US operates a torture compound in Cuba

    April 6, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  18. Tom

    The Cold War is over Cuba no longer exports revolution and there's no longer any point in isolating it. Balart and the other Cuban-American legislators know full well that the US embargo is completely ineffective. The US embargo only punishes the Cuban people by denying them trade and humanitarian assistance. The US has frequently traded with dictatorships both in the Western Hemisphere and the former Soviet bloc. Canada and most of our Western Hemisphere neighbors don't recognize the embargo either. It's time to stop letting a few South Florida legislators dictate US foreign policy. These guys are living in the past and they know it. The only way to free Cuba is to open it up to foreign opinion.

    April 6, 2013 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  19. Furby

    How about the Republican lawmakers worry about fixing our government instead of what tourists want to do. I mean come on.

    April 6, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  20. arsay

    USA has done far worse to its own then Cuba ever has...and still continues too. non story

    April 6, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  21. Sue

    Simple, when you're rich and famous, you get to pick and choose which rules and laws to follow. This pair are 'ENTITLED!' (unlike the rest of us common-folk).

    April 6, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  22. jkflipflop

    Wait. . . so the government thinks it can control where US citizens go and what they spend their money on when outside the US borders?

    April 6, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  23. American

    We need to keep BIG BROTHERS ,checking on those couple

    April 6, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Jay Z and Beyonce's money isn't only US Dollars. They probably used some of that money they've made from global sales. Who cares?

    April 6, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  25. JM

    Why don't these two Republicans lawmakers do something that is constructive for a change.

    April 6, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
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