by Kevin Liptak
Two Republican lawmakers are asking a government agency to look into a recent trip
to Cuba by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, suggesting the superstar couple violated restrictions on
travel to the communist island.
“Despite the clear prohibition against tourism in Cuba, numerous press reports described
the couple’s trip as tourism, and the Castro regime touted it as such in its propaganda,”
Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, both of Florida, wrote in the letter to
the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z were photographed in Havana last week, apparently celebrating
their fifth wedding anniversary on the island. While Cuba was a popular getaway for
Americans in the 1950s, spending money there was outlawed after Fidel Castro took
power in 1959.
In 2012 the Obama administration lifted some of the restrictions on travel to Cuba,
instituting a “people-to-people” travel program that requires a strict itinerary for
“Each traveler must have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that
will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba,” U.S.
Treasury Department guidelines read.
Americans have been known to get around travel restrictions to Cuba in the past by
stopping first in a country with flights to the island. Cuban customs officials are familiar
enough with the practice to not stamp American passports when they cross their desks.
In their letter the Treasury Department, Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart noted their
connection to “a community of many who have been deeply and personally harmed by
the Castro regime's atrocities, including former political prisoners and the families of
“The restrictions on tourism travel are common-sense measures meant to prevent U.S.
dollars from supporting a murderous regime that opposes U.S. security interests at every
turn and which ruthlessly suppresses the most basic liberties of speech, assembly, and
belief,” they wrote. “We support the Cuban people by refusing to sustain their jailers.”