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. James B

    99 problems and Cuba ain't 1...

    April 10, 2013 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  2. PaulB

    I was always under the impression that cisas and passports were granted under the State Department. Since when did the Dept. of the Treasury start granting visas and passports? Does that mean now that any U.S. citizen wanting to travel to Cuba may do so? I guess so.

    April 10, 2013 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  3. comm0nSense

    Oh the republicans. What the joke party they are.

    April 10, 2013 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  4. comm0nSense

    Oh the republicans. What new lows they are achieving.

    April 10, 2013 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  5. Tuna Hoagie

    HOV can stay in HAV

    April 10, 2013 04:27 am at 4:27 am |
  6. Michael

    If this is such a hot topic item how come we don't hear a peep out of the Republicans on how bad China is. China is spying on us through the internet and has a dismal track record when it comes to human rights. Yet all we hear is now bad Cuba is. Even Canada has gotten the message. The only reason farm products is sent to Cuba is becuase the farming lobby hit the Congress over the head that they were missing out since Canada and other countries where getting in. Give me a break. And how much has this driven the Cuban government to give up. It hasn't. It has however made two sets of racist programs. Cubans who reach dry land 'dry feet' and not still in the water 'wet feet' can stay. Try that with Mexico and it isn't going to happen so you have Cubans in Florida some who came through dry feet and Mexicans who came across the border. I don't hear a crack down on any Cuban Americans with 'dry feet'. Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth.

    April 10, 2013 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  7. h-factor

    I think the Miami Cubans need to accept the fact that the "embargo" has failed at every level. Get over it and let's make Cuba a destination for all to enjoy. If you want to see change in Cuba, then travel must be allowed. 50 + years of a backwards policy is enough!

    April 10, 2013 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  8. JJ

    So if you contribute a lot of money to a presidential campaign you can do things other citizens CAN NOT?
    This needs to be investigated.
    Thank you CNN for at least publishing the story.

    April 10, 2013 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  9. John john the pipers son

    Land of the free huh? but its best to get permission, you do see the falsity of it? All other countries, other than the land of the free, get to openly go to Cuba. Yeah the sanctions are really working in the minds of the old reptiles who ruin this great country of freedom... Bwahahaha!

    April 10, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  10. Marie MD

    Once again, the rethugs and tea crazies trying to find something, anything, against the President.
    The worst offense about this trip was Beyoncé's hairdo. My opinion and I like her!

    April 10, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  11. Richard Allen

    Am I the only one shaking my head at how these politicians are wasting time and taxpayer money?

    April 10, 2013 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  12. art

    Florida Cuban's have NO VOICE, and they should not, Puerto Ricans will soon be the voice of Latino's in Congress and so too Mexican Americans, Cubans, are so not Americans, they are so prop GOPTP!

    April 10, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  13. DrJStrangepork

    So the Fla-Reps asked for an investigation. They got info that the trip was authorized, and now look to double-down on it. Just makes them look silly.

    April 10, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  14. Robert

    Just further proof of the decay of our culture that anyone gives a crap abouy Jay-Z and Beyonce. Disgusting cultural
    emphasis in America.

    April 10, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  15. JRJ

    When are we going to grow up about Cuba. The Mafia and rich Cuban families are still ticked off, but they should not control policy.

    April 10, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  16. chewie402

    Amazing what being friends with the President will do for you

    April 10, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  17. mattski

    Maybe the GOP should have asked a few educated question before jumping in front of the cameras to slander them.

    April 10, 2013 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  18. Rosie

    It's time, despite what Cuban Americans say, to end the embargo and start doing business with Cuba.

    April 10, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  19. geeworker

    though I think the US should rethink their policy on Cuba, and open up trade negotiations with them. I also smart enough to know BS story when I read one this is nothing more than the superstar self righteous club getting away with a crime that anyone else would be arrested for. This is total BS that after the fact a lacky from the treasury department informed congress that this "education" was authorized

    April 10, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  20. RE McCray

    who cares? except for an angry congresswoman in Miami. But seriously, who really cares if anyone goes to Cuba or not? Grow up people ...

    April 10, 2013 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  21. Name lynn

    Whoever approvel beyounce an jay-z trip the people didnt want them in cuba, i thought people can take trips where ever they wanted to go, its look like the people with money and fame not wanted in cuba wow.

    April 10, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  22. sean

    This is what the GOP worries about...if stars go to Cuba..how about they worry about the economy and creating jobs. ohh ya i forgot they will give more tax breaks to the job creators and the economy will fix itself...at least there base of supporters is shrinking which is old white ignorant men

    April 10, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  23. Sindel

    I wonder if they put this much time and effort into Dennis Rodman's trip to Korea? Given current political tensions, that trip seemed like it would need more attention. I really don't think Cuba is a threat to us other than the illegal immigrants that try to float here via raft.

    April 10, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  24. Jonathan

    I don't care why they went! Let them go! Has anyone realized just how well the trade embargo has worked out for the Cubans?! We started it, what, 50 years ago, and has the Castro regime been toppled? Hell no! Let us go there like we're allowed to go to China! Hell it's easier for us to travel to North Korea, and their regime is even more brutal to its people! (eyeroll)

    April 10, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  25. liberal disease

    i wish they would stay there and see how socialism really works, then they would stop supporting their close friend Barry..

    April 10, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8