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. yoky

    If they went for educational purposes, then I'm the king of england. We all know they went for tourism and was allowed to go cause of their superstar status.

    April 10, 2013 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  2. Harry

    Oh, did they go to Cuba? Somebody call a waambulance for the two career politicians in Florida. News Flash: Prohibiting the 'inherent right to free travel' is just as bad as anything the Castro regime has ever done. Ever heard of the Iron Curtain?

    April 10, 2013 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  3. Anonymous

    money does trump everything

    April 10, 2013 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  4. Justin

    Too bad you american are missing out, the Cubans love us Canadians. Been to Cuba a few times, and enjoy it a lot , never have problems, very friendly people, and great cigars.

    April 10, 2013 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  5. Steve

    More manufactured outrage by the teabagger right. How about you guys stop the nonsense and actually do stuff that moves this country forward.

    April 10, 2013 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  6. Patty

    Hey Republicans, get over yourselves! Obama won the election, AGAIN. Stop trying to make mountains out of molehills. You have made it your life's mission to go after anything or anybody connected to Obama. I am not a big fan of Beyonce and Jay-Z, but if they went through the proper channels to travel to Cuba, move on. Rich people are doing thngs that most of us only wish we could do. I don't have any ill will toward them for that. It must be difficult for you to live with all the bitterness and hatred. Get on with the business of taking care of the problems in this country.

    April 10, 2013 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  7. cHaKa

    Stank and stinky in Cuba.......lol

    April 10, 2013 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Not Ok for cuba (100miles away) but ok for North Korea visits (over a 1000miles away)??

    April 10, 2013 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  9. Jared

    II sure wish I could travel to Cuba. Maybe I will move to a country that has freedoms so I can do this, because I certainly do not feel free here in the United States.

    April 10, 2013 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  10. Gigi

    In trying to preserve a system that only benefits a very small group, the Usamericans are becoming more and more subservient and clownish. Now US citizens have to ask a couple of Cuban renegades parasites for permission to travel. That's freedom huh? hahaha

    April 10, 2013 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  11. Homie

    Who Cares? We need to normalize relations with Cuba.

    I too would love to vacation in Cuba.

    April 10, 2013 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  12. 3halos

    If it smells, looks like, resembles and barks like ...it IS. This is all BS. Who CANT see through this?

    April 10, 2013 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  13. tk

    **Whew** now I can finally sleep nice and sound knowing that Jayz and Beyonce are going to be okay. Thanks CNN!

    April 10, 2013 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  14. Thomas

    Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart , Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Marco Rubio of Florida would do nicely in a communistic system of informants and snitches .

    April 10, 2013 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  15. Jerry

    Whoever approved this trip should be fired, period. Are these idiots (JZ and Beyonce) diplomats or just moochers?! Oh sorry, I forgot. They are Mr. Obama's "Magic Kingdom" friends!

    Oh well...

    April 10, 2013 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  16. rudel.dietrich

    Black people enjoying themselves? We most certainly cannot have that!

    – Any GOP lawmaker

    April 10, 2013 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  17. catsnake

    hmmmm, well, I've had my cat for five years, can we celebrate there? Oh right, we're not black. Except the the black patch on his tail but obviously there's a double standard.

    April 10, 2013 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  18. JamesC.

    The United States Embargo is one of the most egregious bullying tactics of any super power. We have to fight these Republican nut jobs from Miami, and get people flying to Cuba. I flew there a few years ago (via Mexico) and declared it to the immigration officers upon my return. I told them I found the embargo to be offensive and harmful to the Cuban people- I think they respected my sincerity . They let me go after an hour or so. I think more Americans need to stand up to their government's disasterous policy. We are on the wrong side of this issue.

    April 10, 2013 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  19. Patrick

    North Korea is about to launch a nuke yet we have elected officials worried about two celebrities and their vacation to an island 90 miles south of the USA. Let's just give these guys a couple of autographed CDs and a couple of pictures for Facebook and call it a day.

    April 10, 2013 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  20. joepac

    Just give it up Repubs!! This guy want to Broker peace and good relations. He don't use your Money.

    April 10, 2013 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  21. spiritzilla

    Isn't undemocratic to restricts citizens from travelling to wherever they want?

    April 10, 2013 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  22. MSosa

    Ileana, Diaz Balart, and the US government in general need to find better things to do that preventing Americans from visiting Cuba. Cuba is not perfect, and neither is this country. The only fanatics are the right wing Cuban-Americans like those two Congressmen. Happy to see Joe Garcia, a Fla. newly elected Democratic Congressman, did not join in this embarrassing criticism.

    April 10, 2013 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  23. SecrtSqurl

    First republicans are mad because they were there illegally. Then they find out the trip was approved. Then they are mad because it should not have been approved and was a blatant vacation. Now Obama has somehow been made to look bad. Americans are tired of this blame game. Enough is enough.

    April 10, 2013 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  24. bigd

    What a waste of time for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to spend time on this. We need our elected leaders to concentrate on important issues facing our nation.

    April 10, 2013 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  25. two four

    Get these two t i t s off the front page, there's WAY more important things happening right now, the last place the spotlight should be is on a couple of overprivileged "celebs" with far too much time on their hands.

    April 10, 2013 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
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