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. el_Gringo_

    I don't get these hypocritical Lawmakers.... So under new rules they eased with new travel rules to the Island for both Cubans and Cuban-Americans but when it comes to the rest of us they question the travel. Make it fair......Allow either all Americans or no Americans including its residents to travel to Cuba!

    April 6, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  2. BigdaddyUSA

    So the crooks and theives in Washington feel we should not visit Cuba but we can go to Iran and North Korea ??

    April 6, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  3. Stephen

    Because they can pay for it.

    April 6, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  4. Jim Weix

    LOL...they went to Cuba, like many of us, because our government has no right to tell us that we can't go! The United States, with their silly and failed embargo, is a joke to the rest of the world.
    Just because our government is paid off by the elderly Cuban exiles, to continue the embargo, doesn't mean that the American citizens have to also be crooked and ignorant. Americans are much smarter and more honest than our government.

    April 6, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  5. cpc65

    Uh, doesn't Jay-Z have this agency that now represents athletes as well as folks from entertainment industry? Maybe he went to talk to a baseball player about becoming his client?

    April 6, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  6. Bernie

    What a stupid policy! Cuba is far better than the communist Russia,China, or the Mideastern countries, yet we do business with all of them except Cuba? What's wrong with this picture?

    April 6, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  7. Learn to Read

    Dear, Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart –

    Please get back to work. You did not get elected as representatives to waste your time (and the taxpayers' money) whining about celebrity-media-mogul vacations. Yes, there are still many difficulties and problems amid the America-Cuba relations, but this is not one of them. If you seriously believe that this is worth your time – TMZ, E!, or even Perez Hilton would be happy to hire you as a rant-blogger if/when you're voted out of office next election.

    Seriously – you have to pick your battles. And I simply cannot believe that you think this is a responsible use of your time.

    April 6, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  8. miguel centeno

    If we are going to judge Cuba for "atrocities" haven't the USA done the same at a larger scale? by that logic, banning tourism to those countries would limit travelling to countless countries. The Obama administration knows how silly it is to limit people's travel to Cuba.

    April 6, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  9. Mo

    maybe jay-z is starting a fashion line (roc-a-cuba) in cuba, and beyonce is starting an acting school for little girls. in the background, they are plotting with castro's evil communist government. jay z will start implanting subliminal hypnotic suggestions in his music, as will beyonce. this music will slowly but surely turn americans (who listen to it) against the us government and transform these americans into evil communists who will rise and overthrow the us government. so, be afraid people, be really afraid.
    i call on the us government to outlaw jay-z and beyonce's music; i call on the us government to outlaw hip-hop; i call on the us government to issue special helmets to be worn by all americans to protect them from the evil rays that will be transmitted by the 'evil communism inducer' transmitter castro gave to jay z to bring back to the us.
    then, once that is done, i call on the us government to give me the keys to the nuclear missiles so i can blow up the scheming bunny on the moon.
    the ghost of j edgar hoover

    April 6, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  10. mike in az

    If these lawmakers really wanted freedom for the Cuban people they would remove the ban and encourage American travel to Cuba. Unless "let's isolate them until the Castro brothers die" is sound foreign policy.... I guess they've only had half a century to try it.

    April 6, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  11. sherry

    Come on. You know celebrities are above the law. It doesn't apply to them.

    April 6, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  12. Evergreen

    But it is ok to do business with communist China.

    April 6, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  13. Gary

    Whats the problem..???? celebrities can do whatever they want.... whenever they want !!! Remember.... they are better than the rest of us and are entitled to special privledges and benefits !!

    April 6, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  14. italian prime minister

    Get over it already, geez

    April 6, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  15. Martin

    No, Beyonce Knowles and Shawn Carter are each rich celebrities; the laws do not apply to such people in the United States – especially to people who can make their millions by some moniker.

    April 6, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  16. Frank

    Talking about American businesses and not American citizens, going to Cuba is a fantastic experience at going visiting another country with another culture, other foods, other habits etc. It's so enriching. I dread the day when I'll go and be greeted by a big mac instead of their home made food, etc. It won't be Cuba anymore. And they'll get fat too. Same for other countries, I hate seeing a mac do in Europe... I want European things instead and not feel like I'm in the USA all the time.

    April 6, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  17. january1

    Don't these lawmakers realize, fame and fortune gives you a free pass on everything!

    April 6, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  18. Kitty

    I hope Jay Z and Beyonce had a wonderful time in Cuba.. Cuba is beautiful, Cuban people are beautiful. Stop hating that they were able to go and be welcomed and trusted. Viva Jayonce!!!!

    April 6, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  19. tigertalker

    Whatever. Politics as usual.

    April 6, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  20. Roland

    Why is U.S. tourism in China allowed then? Oh, that's right, China OWNS USA.

    April 6, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  21. wax

    But we are a free country with capitalist values. Big government shouldn't tell us how to spend our money

    April 6, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Jay-Z had to resupply his cigars

    April 6, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  23. Jeff G

    Because North Korea was already reserved for Dennis Rodman

    April 6, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  24. Greenspam

    “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.”

    How about China?

    April 6, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  25. miami vice

    I fail to understand how the US government has the right to bar its citizens from travelling where they please.

    April 6, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
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