Two Republican members of congress in Florida are asking the U.S. Treasury Department to look into Jay-Z and Beyonce’s recent trip to Cuba, citing concerns that they were not licensed to visit the communist island. Photographs of the couple were taken last week as they vacationed there for there fifth wedding anniversary.
“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 wrote to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Since 1959, when Fidel Castro took power, Americans wishing to travel to Cuba have been required to obtain a “cultural exchange” license from the U.S. government.
"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 for the “people-to-people” program reads.
The couple was pictured visiting restaurants and historical sites last week. A 61-year-old embargo forbids Americans from travelling to the county solely for tourism.
Pictures of the couple show them posing with locals in Havana and Jay-Z holding a cigar. With a combined net worth of $775 million in 2012, the two could have gone anywhere in the world, so they must have had a particular desire to see Cuba. Whether they followed federal procedures to do so legally is unknown.
Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart noted in their letter that they represent “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 murdered innocents.”
“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,” the representatives wrote. “We support the Cuban people by refusing to sustain their jailers.”
Mauricio Claver-Carone, the Executive Director of Cuba Democracy Advocates in Washington, D.C., was critical of the couple’s visit calling it “extremely insensitive.”
"There are women getting beaten on a daily basis, women who are being jailed for no reason...people are fighting for their freedom,” he told TMZ.