April 9th, 2013
08:10 PM ET
9 years ago

Treasury says Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s trip was approved

(CNN) – Beyoncé and Jay-Z's recent controversial trip to Cuba was approved by the Treasury Department in advance of their travel, new documents show.

According to a letter obtained by CNN Tuesday, the Treasury Department wrote to two members of Congress who called for an investigation of the trip and explained the type of travel license obtained by the superstar couple.

"It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized by OFAC [the Office of Foreign Assets Control] to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba,” the letter read.

Due to the U.S. government's travel embargo with Cuba, Americans are prohibited from visiting the communist country for tourism. U.S. citizens can apply for licenses to go anyway, provided they show substantial proof they intend to visit for specific reasons, such as for business or education. And they must also provide a detailed itinerary.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z went to Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, leading press reports to characterize the trip as a vacation. The Havana Times, however, reported the couple met with a dance group, a children's theater company, an arts institute and a singer, suggesting there was a cultural and educational element to the trip.

Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida took issue with the trip, and over the weekend asked the U.S. Treasury to investigate.

After receiving the Treasury's response Tuesday, Ros-Lehtinen was not satisfied.

"If the tourist activities undertaken by Beyoncé and Jay-Z in Cuba are classified as an educational exchange trip, then it is clear that the Obama Administration is not serious about denying the Castro regime an economic lifeline that US tourism will extend to it," she said in a statement.

"That was a wedding anniversary vacation that was not even disguised as a cultural program. As more human rights activists engage in hunger strikes, I don't think they will see any evidence of how this scam endeavor will help them become independent of the regime."

Filed under: Cuba • Treasury Department
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. I'mgladI'mnotarepublican

    So there. Take that Faux News. Maybe between this tid-bit and a few other items Faux News, Lush Plumprump, Sean Handittome, and a few other nut jobs will go completely Bat Guano.

    April 9, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  2. andy

    I think these two congressmen need to mind their own business and focus on real issues, not where people go on vacation.

    April 9, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  3. Jim

    Hey, money talks. They simply said that they were in Cuba on a cultural visit aka to them vacation/anniversary celebration and the federal government okayed it. If Rodman can go to North Korea then everything and everywhere is fair game. Incidentally, Kim Jong Un looked at Rodman and concluded the U. S. has a great representative. If that is what typlifies the citizens of the U. S. then I think I can "nuc" the U. S. without reprisals.

    April 9, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein

    Why did it take so long for this to come out in the news? It shouldn't take this long to hear about a trip.

    April 9, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. Gigi

    Who gives a flying fig?

    April 9, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  6. Skyhawk

    Lift the embargo already, it serves no purpose whatsoever. Once trade and tourism opens up, Cuba will turn into a Democracy. Castro made his point and won a long time ago.

    April 9, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  7. Thomas

    Rich people who are buddy/buddy with the president circumventing the system while the rest of us would end up in jail, shocking. Not really.

    April 9, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  8. SheilaKA

    Baloney. Money talks. They probably agreed to pay the $50,000 fine in advance.

    April 9, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  9. TheAnswer

    Told you guys.

    April 9, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  10. Sandy

    So all the republicans complaining look stupid now. LOL

    April 9, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  11. conniesz

    Sounds like it meets the requirements for cultural exchange to the max – they're both entertainers and they met with entertainers and entertainers in training. If they were Republican candidates they'd be called cultural heroes – but they're friends of the President so they must be up to no good. Sheesh.

    April 9, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  12. Michael

    The only controversy was the one erroneously stirred up by the media. What happened to checking the facts first and writing the story as such. The media built up this so called controversy for their own sake, when they could have just as easily investigated whether the trip was authorized and why. I guess that would have only been one day's worth of reporting. Yet they kept reporting this "who cares" article for a week. Then Congressmen wasting time on the hill get involved and waste more time to only be told that the trip was authorized.

    April 9, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  13. really?

    And you wonder why sane people don't vote republican

    April 9, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  14. Steve

    What a bunch of bull! If your a contributor to Obama & famous, you can do ANYTHING you want. I can't wait until 2016...

    April 9, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  15. Furious Styles

    Turns out the trip was approved the whole time. What a waste of news media the past few days.

    April 9, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    some people will try to find something wrong all of the time. next thing they will be accused of being spies for Cuba.

    April 9, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  17. sisterchef

    Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida need to read the article, also on CNN, about the grouop of Americans who recently went to North Korea..which is threatening to nuke the USA just now..without drawing any negative comments or criticism from anyone of note. Where ever Americans travel, if they represent the US well, it is a good thing.

    April 9, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  18. Rob

    Almost seems like the Tresury Dept may have inserted it after they got back. Almost like it had been influance by someone and of course Obama does seem to like been seen with celeberties.

    April 9, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  19. Joe Plumber

    Special thanks to the 2 republican congress members for wasting our time with the travel arrangements of Jay Z and Bey. You really have your pulse on the needs of Americans.

    April 9, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  20. HZ

    In other words, reporters who wrote the earlier reports didn't do their job and leaped to assuming the couple were in Cuba illegally.

    April 9, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  21. mk2aw

    Let's set aside the fact that Castro's murderous regime has killed countless innocent men , women and children over the last half century and writers , poets and musicians languish in sub human prisons for life with the only crime they have ever committed is disagreeing with the dictatorship and wanting freedom , I have to sit here and wonder if Beyonce and Jay z understand that the hotels and restaurants they are having fun in are actually off limits to the Cuban people that live on the island as they are not allowed to sit and eat in those restaurants . Castro's belligerent racism knows no bounds , the population has little food and is starving all due to the whims of mad men . It's disappointing seeing ignorance on this level.

    April 9, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  22. jim herr

    Unfortunate Obama slam against American Cubanos.

    April 9, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  23. steve

    total joke
    buddies of obozo
    glad he will be out in a few more years

    April 9, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  24. Keith

    Of course they did. Obama looks out for them.

    April 9, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  25. Keith

    This is criminal.

    April 9, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
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