April 8th, 2013
08:05 PM ET
10 years ago

GOP lawmakers continue to call out Beyoncé and Jay-Z for ‘shameful’ vacation

(CNN) – Beyoncé and Jay-Z are continuing to face heat from Republicans in Washington for their jaunt last week to Cuba, which remains off-limits for Americans looking only for a tropical vacation.

"How nice it would have been if they had said something about freedom and human rights,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told CNN.

She and fellow Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart are calling on the Treasury Department to reveal whether the superstar couple traveled to Cuba legally.

“I'm not saying they should be politicians, but be sensitive to the cruelty of this regime, what they've done to the people of Cuba,” Ros-Lehtinen continued, adding it was “a shame to make it look like an exotic vacation. Shameful."

Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart both represent districts in South Florida, which large populations of Cuban-Americans call home.

On Friday, they sent a letter to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control requesting the agency look into the trip and report back.

In 2012, the Obama administration lifted some restrictions on Cuba travel, instituting a "people-to-people" 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," Treasury guidelines read.

Another Florida Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio, castigated Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s trip in a statement Monday, but also took a stance against the administration’s updated policies for travel to Cuba.

“U.S. law clearly bans tourism to Cuba by American citizens because it provides money to a cruel, repressive and murderous regime,” he wrote. “Since their inception, the Obama administration’s ‘people to people’ cultural exchange programs have been abused by tourists who have no interest in the Cuban people’s freedom.”

Rubio demanded the administration “explain exactly how trips like these comply with U.S. law and regulations governing travel to Cuba and it should disclose how many more of these trips they have licensed.”

When asked about Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s trip, White House spokesman Jay Carney on Monday would only refer questions to the Treasury, which has a standing policy not to discuss individual licenses.

"I cannot comment on a specific case or whether a license was obtained,” Treasury spokesman John Sullivan said.

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.

On Monday, Ros-Lehtinen said there was no excuse for Americans to travel to Cuba for a simple vacation.

“There are many places that are pleasant that you don't feel like you're being a pawn in the game of this Communist tyranny,” she said.

At least one Republican, however, feels differently. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, called on the U.S. government to end its longstanding ban on travel to Cuba.

"Senator Flake believes that the U.S. has pampered the Cuban government for more than fifty years now,” Flake’s spokeswoman, Genevieve Rozansky, said.

“He believes it's time to get tough by allowing Americans to travel freely to the island," she said.

CNN’s Erin McPike and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Cuba • Marco Rubio
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. zuglo

    Just got back from a great vacation at a Cuban beach resort. The people are friendly and the culture is amazing. The best part was that I didn't have to compete with Americans to find a beach chair.

    April 8, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  2. johnson

    Some Republicans are in favor of the USA being a prison-state.

    April 8, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  3. gate

    "How nice it would have been if they had said something about freedom and human rights,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told CNN.

    Like the freedom to travel where you please?

    April 8, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  4. concernedcitizen

    GOP lawmakers continue to call out Beyoncé and Jay-Z for ‘shameful’ black skin

    April 8, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  5. j

    Money does not buy class.

    April 8, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  6. s kel

    This is what the party bent on destroying this country( republicans) argue about???? No wonder they are losers.

    April 8, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  7. keno

    Get the hell over it. For God sakes we have more important things to think about.

    April 8, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  8. Larry L

    It was a local revolution to over-throw a government that treated the common people like dirt. We picked the wrong side and Castro won. Get over it.

    April 8, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  9. NoSlack2327

    This is absolute nonsense. By what authority do they travel to Cuba???? They should be prosecuted.

    April 8, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  10. Thomas

    I agree with Jeff Flake. Americans should be free to travel where ever they want to. I find it ironic that the party of personal freedom and limited government is advocating a nanny state where it tells us where to visit and where to not visit. STOP THE BAN!

    April 9, 2013 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  11. enuff

    I am not educated enough in regards to the information and policies pertaining to Cuba. That being said, I think it was stupid that they went there. As far as republicans complaining about it, all I can say about that is OH NO! They NEVER complain! Besides, Beyonce and Jay-Z aren't running for office. Is this because she sang at the President's party? Revenge?

    April 9, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  12. Hershey

    Even though I personally hate Jay-Z (prefer West coast rap than East), I think people should freely travel to Cuba. It's not like they are discussing ways to overthrow the U.S. government or to spy on the U.S.

    April 9, 2013 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  13. Thomas

    It's time to end travel ban on Cuba . We can Travel to Vietnam but not to Cuba. Why , because of Cuban Americans who want to take the Island back. Cubans that stayed in Cuba don't want that.

    Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen never complain about human rights abuses in Haiti .

    Why do Republicans always tell me where I can and can't go , start wars over WMDs that don't exist , and tell me who to pray too ?

    April 9, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  14. Phi Thomas

    Florida GOP funny, how about you cut those lines at the next election. Stop letting people in the suburbs vote in two minutes and people from lower income neighborhoods stand in line for a few hours. People in Glass Houses should not attempt to throw boulders, stop crying about celeb vacations and help out the people in your State

    April 9, 2013 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  15. GI Joe

    Get rid Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – that one seems to just be a complainer. If busy working, no notice would have been taken of J and Neyonce

    April 9, 2013 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  16. bigbell texas

    With D A getting killed in Texas. They are worrying about this trip

    April 9, 2013 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  17. larry craig

    This is why the gop is hated, these idiots have no clue about anything.

    April 9, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  18. ghost

    Cuba is our next door neighbor. Why are we oppose to the way Cuba is treating it's citizens when we are doing the exact same thing here in this country. Call what the US is doing to it's citizens what you want, it is still the same thing Cuba.is.ding. Hell, if it was up to the REPUGS, we would be more like the Middle East or some 3rd world country.

    April 9, 2013 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  19. John

    "Shameful"? How about "illegal"? This article is shameful...

    April 9, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  20. Name lynn

    All that fame an money in cuba beyonce an jay-z an people saying what are they during in cuba. Whats going on i knew you can vacation where your money takes you in the country an the united states. Wow wow

    April 9, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  21. Norman Autrey

    It's nice to know that the party of limited government wants to keep tabs on any private citizen taking a vacation. Many thousands of US citizens travel to Cuba every year through places like Mexico City to enjoy the warmth and beauty of Cuba. These two politicians should focus on keeping the economy on the path to recovery and working for the American people instead of whining about this total non-issue. They don't get it, and it's precisely why the GOP is waning.

    April 9, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  22. VVVVV

    It's a shame our government thinks they have the right to prevent us from traveling places because it thinks we have to tow the same line politically as our government. We do business & travel to countries that have worse human rights records, like Saudi Arabia and etc.

    April 9, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  23. Sick

    They're worth $4.1 billion together. GOP has to knock those uppity folks down a notch. Ha! My buddy is over here and he just said that his mom just got back from Cuba. Where's the outrage GOP? Ha! You'll get less than 2% of the black vote with this stunt.

    April 9, 2013 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
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