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. Think_now,please

    Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. Impeach the "lawmaker" for, among other things, wasting tax dollars for even commenting on the private life and travel of two (supposedly free) United States citizens.
    Impeachment sound farfetched? So does this inquiry. There is an entire book worth of things to write about in regard to this topic so I will end my comment before I dredge too deep.

    April 9, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  2. Woman In California

    Glory be. Now, I can sleep and get on with my life (pure sarcasm).

    Seriously, imagine how the people of Cuba feel now. I am sure they want people to visit their country so they can see first hand (as much as permitted), what they live through each day. I also know many of them appreciate knowing the outside world cares about the Cuban people and their struggles. May this issue R.I.P.

    April 9, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  3. Fred Evil

    How's thet economy and the jobs coming GoP?
    Oh, you have a couple of rich black folks to harass?
    Well, get back to us when you can....we could use the work....hello...?

    April 9, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  4. j crew

    travel where you want to .dont let the refugees run the usa.

    April 9, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  5. fernace

    And true to GOT-Party form these 2 representatives double down, like pitbulls on a rope, a tactic perfected by Romney last year & favored by McCain & Graham this year! The fact is that many c-lebs have visited Cuba in the past few years, but let Beyonce & her hubby go & it's time for an investigation! Of course Roz-Lehtinen isn't "satisfied"! This would have been such a fab scandal & she would have been front & center in exposing it! Instead she's now making disparraging remarks, relying soley on her own interpretation of the trip! Perhaps if she & Diaz-Balart had done their homework, they wouldn't be in this foot-in-mouth-eat-your words kind of position they are now!!

    April 9, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  6. Brian

    No wonder we are in debt, people are asking the government to investigate this crap..... Put you're efforts toward something more useful and quit wasting our money on useless investigations.

    April 9, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. NYCL Poster

    Don't you people realize, there are now 2 sets of rules. One for the rich elite and Hollywood liberals, then there is the other set of rules, the ones we taxpayers have to live under where we get robbed on a daily basis and soon to be disarmed so we cant fight back and God forbid we speak up, we are labeled as domestic terrorists. Isn't liberalism great or what?? Thanks America, we have become the laughing stock of the world.

    April 9, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  8. clark

    Again, amazes me how the government can tell you want you can and cannot do. I love to travel and the US government says I cannot go to Cuba. I would be arrested when I came back. But Obama's buddies get a free pass. US Government, stop telling me what I cannot do, that is my wife's job!

    April 9, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  9. Z

    A wedding anniversary is an educational trip? What a joke. I used to be an Obama supporter.

    April 9, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  10. Keola

    What do you expect from people who can not obey the United States Laws. Look who they voted for?? That was a big NO NO. Monkeys you can not expect much from them.

    April 9, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  11. DickPerry

    "Due to the U.S. government's travel embargo with Cuba, Americans are prohibited from visiting the communist country for tourism."
    The land of the free...

    April 9, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  12. fernace

    Just an observation: If the rest of the world is free to visit & spend their $$$ in Cuba, it's pretty obvious that American sanctions have no impact on their economy! If it's all about human rights violations, there are nations across the globe w/egregious practices, that we can visit til the cows come home! These sanctions are a hold over from a bygone era & have no place in a new millennium!!

    April 9, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  13. Jerubbaal

    But they have no qualms when Americans visit China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia and other countries which suppress and trample on their citizen's human rights – hypocrites. By the way CNN, I notice that you left out the name of the GOP boy wonder Marco Rubio who also put his 2 cents into this non-issue.

    April 9, 2013 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Our politicians are really focused. Spending time, energy and tax payer money to investigate this breach of national security.... Lol,

    April 9, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  15. Mark

    What is also true is that Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart are two prime examples of being much more LIKE the claimed enemy than different. Much like Castro and crew they essentially try to bully their way into curtailing others. Prime example here. Attention Ms. Ros-Lehtinen you were not on this trip and you have no idea if it was cultural or not. Many people do the same or similar itinerary and have you investigated them? NO. Why did you chose these two, could it be your constant attempt to headline grab once again? Of course not. Now that you got slammed by the Treasury department and told you they were in fact authorized to go, do you stop there? No you follow the one you are supposedly so unlike and decide that you will create the truth. Hello Ms. Castro. Your unwillingness to even attempt to acknowledge that two African American entertainers could actually be interested in a cultural program for an anniversary trip says MUCH more about YOU than them.

    April 9, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  16. Ed1

    Why not the law doesn't apply to ordinary people only Obama supports, actors, and singers.

    Another load of crap from our no leader in charge and don't give me only the Treasury Department knew.

    April 9, 2013 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  17. gl

    "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." I guess since they are performing artists this doesn't count as a cultural and educational element? I know a lot of people that "work" for the government that plan trips for their jobs that fall during holidays and/or special occasions - killing two birds with one stone. " After receiving the Treasury's response Tuesday, Ros-Lehtinen was not satisfied." Get a grip repugs you asked for an investigation and got one! stop complaining about everything and help fix the problems here at home.

    April 9, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  18. Silvana Mastrolia

    I agree 100% with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen. This couple seems to have an aggrandized sense of entitlement and I'm disappointed with the lack of sensitivity of all involved.

    April 9, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  19. Cathy

    Wow! Money does buy everything. Why do these stars always cozy up to our enemies. Castro, Hugo Chavez. What the hell.?

    April 9, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  20. Te Limbo

    That noise that Jay–z calls music is horrible.

    April 9, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  21. cnn

    who cares

    April 9, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  22. MysticYat

    You'd think at least one of the journalists would have checked this before they spread it all over the online headlines, but that would have required journalistic integrity which appears to have become extinct, so maybe not......

    April 9, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  23. T. Michael

    Dennis Rodman visits North Korea and goes to a basketball game with a dictator that is threatening the US with nuclear war, and nothing. Jay-Z and Beyonce go to Cuba, a nation that hasn't directly threatened the US in any way, shape or form, and outrage in the Beltway? What a shame that such illogical behavior is now to be expected from these people who pretend to represent us.

    April 9, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  24. marco

    I don't,t understand why Cuba is so taboo. All Latin american countries trade with them and have no travel restrictions, so do most if no all Euro nations. Ohh , don't forget our little brother Ohh Canada. THE COLD WAR IS OVER. The american government should stop this nonsense.

    April 9, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  25. Darrell Engle

    I think that the Cuba travel embargo is ridiculous. It's time that Congresspeople acted and lifted the restrictions. I think it is time to reestablish ties with the Cuban people.

    April 9, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
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