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. frank v

    wow i thought we lived in land of the free... we cant visit any country we wish? lol..

    April 9, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    This is what lawmakers are deeming as important issues these days?

    April 9, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  3. cD

    Stop worrying about Hollywood and focus on your WORK in D.C. They're like 7th graders trying to avoid doing their homework.

    April 9, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  4. Jackie

    This was never a problem as everyone knows 2004 President Bush signed a law allowing Americans to travel to Cuba, as to date over 400,000 Americans have gone. But the Republican/Tea Party needed a distraction from not passing any bills so they used this fake charge. The funny thing is Rep. Dia-Balart of Florida has a Father who was a Cuban Politican and his Uncle is Fidal Castor. Rep. Ros-Lehitnan was born in Havana Cuba before her parents brought her to the USA. Senator Rubio went on the attack without knowing anything because he is still looking to make for his campainging for Self Deportation of his own people when he thought he would be VP. No one is talking about jobs or economy but just Beyonce going to Cuba.

    April 9, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  5. WM

    Don't the republicans have enough on their plates without worrying about what our entertainers are doing on their free time? This is ridiculous, let them live. Focus on fixing the economy!

    April 9, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. ekdl

    Educational exchange/license? What a joke. These two a dump as it gets and need to be educated on the basics. Unfortunately, the rich and famous rule and the rules apply to only small folks that work and pay taxes.

    April 9, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  7. picklepants

    Wow CNN! You have sunk to the lowest of the low. You report on this stupid story which affects no one, but you neglect to mention that democrats have pulled a Watergate on a Republican U.S. Senator by illegally recording a private conversation. It's ok if a dem does it to a republican, but God forbid if it's the other way around. You are so biased and dishonest, your founder's son calls you disgusting and biased. You have lost all respect as a journalistic news organization. You are a lapdog to the democratic/communist party. Btw, Jane Fonda loves you and thinks you are doing a great job.

    April 9, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  8. Brad

    The government investigates Jay-Z and Beyonce for going to Cuba, but ignores Rodman going to North Korea?

    April 9, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  9. Misterpinkey

    Don't we have domestic issues to worry about?

    April 9, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. ChuckATL

    I haven't seen any comments yet, but isn't funny how there is absolutely nothing redemptive about this trip, but CNN uses this article as a means to say "hey it's ok, the Treasury department approved it", I am not sure what our Cuba policy should be, but this completely wreaks of special treatment and worse a total disregard of federal laws.

    The double standard that CNN shows celebrities, vs. the targets of Groups like Operation Wall Street is disgraceful. If your going to take the Rich to task in the later example then celebrities should absolutely held to the same standard and scrutiny. This is why socialism always fails and CNN is the poster child for favoritism and chronism which corrupts most social revolutions and governments which either turn into facist regimes wrought with corruption and suppressive of dissent.

    April 9, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  11. ChuckATL

    Ps. JZ, Beyonce and the people in the Treasury that approved this should all be prosecuted.

    April 9, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  12. skipper_sam

    Can we ship Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinenback to Cuba ?

    Why are only the extended family members, of Cubans with roots to the Spanish Upper class still worried about Fidel ?

    April 9, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  13. maurice2u

    Nonsense like this is just another reason why people have no faith in Congress. Almost equally as heinous is CNN for putting this out as 'news'. Speaking to why the general impression of new media isn't far above that of the U.S. Congress.

    April 9, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  14. Jack

    So, how are things going in Afghanistan lately? I trust there aren't any tragic fatalities to report or death counts spiraling beyond anything that mean old Bush administration racked up, right? Like, Obama got the Peace Prize, so let's here more about how he's dropping flowers and not bombs on our allies countries, hmm kay?

    April 9, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  15. sbrrezz

    do these members of congress have more pressing business then this? im sure there are some post offices left that need to be renamed

    April 9, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  16. Edgar

    Do these reps have any real work to do?

    April 9, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  17. Brian Smith

    But it is perfectly ok for Americans (Dennis Rodman) to visit North Korea on 'vacation' – but Cuba, no no no, Cuba is our sworn lifelong permanent enemy.

    April 9, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  18. Dr.Cole

    Apparently you only need to pay into Obama's pocket book and host big fundraising parties in order to get a special trip that no other American can take.

    April 9, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  19. Not surprised

    Well I guess when you donate lots of money to the obama's, do private performances at the white house, host multi million dollar private dinner events at your home for said leader, and are all chummy chummy with him. Normal laws that govern us normal everyday citizens don't apply.

    April 9, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  20. Mike

    So tired of these south Florida politicians who insist on maintaining a 60's cold war posture with Cuba as if they are any threat to the US. Silly.

    April 9, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  21. Ross B

    That's just Bey being Bey! She sounded so good at the inauguration she deserves a trip to the beach. Get off her back you haters! Her voice and her hair are so amazing, and not fake at all.

    April 9, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  22. konica135

    Odumbo solicits aid from Hollywood and other entertainers, then gives payback with concerts in the White House (closed to tours for budgetary reasons) and looks the other way when celebs flaunt their reputations by travel to an embargoed country. He is a political hack, controlled by puppeteers.

    April 9, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  23. DocHollywood

    These republicans worry more about someone taking a trip than getting Americans back to work, repairing infrastructure, improving health care and any thing else that will improve the economy. Perhaps we're spending too much attention on trying to oust the Cuban government. If we opened up trade and tourism with them, the regime would fall much faster. But then, who would we have to hate close to us? Oh yeah....we still have Mexico.

    April 9, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  24. Chris Smith

    I find it hard to believe that Beyonce and Jay-Z had permission from the Treasury department to visit Cuba. I think "our president" had something to do with it since he seems to love celebrities. If they can go, why not the rest of us?

    April 9, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  25. LastoftheZucchiniFlowers

    Though not as famous as these two, Ry Cooder traveled to Cuba over ten years ago and organized a huge 'son' reunion of older Cuban musicians and made a great movie there "The Buena Vista Social Club". People go back and forth to Cuba all the time and these GOP goons simply cannot mind their own business. With everything going on in the world today – THIS is what they're upset about? Wake up and remember that the Carters are private citizens and had clearance to visit Cuba. Guess what? All tvl restrictions there will be lifted soon because Castro is dead, the cold war is over and Cuban people are now waiting to rejoin the rest of the 21st century. Somebody tell the GOP that they'd best be worrying about Dennis Rodman's trip to pal around with fat turd Kim Jong UN. Rodman claims that all President Obama needs to do to attain world peace is to play hoops with the rotund despot and everything will be coming up roses. Seriously? The GOP gets more comically irrelevant with each moment that passes. You couldn't make these things UP.

    April 9, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
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