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Beyoncé and Jay-Z: How They Scored a Trip to Controversial Cuba

Beyonce, Jay-Z, Cuba AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

Why are Beyoncé and Jay-Z allowed to travel to Cuba but the rest of us aren't? Or is the answer in the phrase Beyoncé and Jay-Z?
—Perf. I., via Twitter

Actually, you don't have to have four No. 1 albums and the most famous baby in the world to celebrate your wedding anniversary in Cuba these days. Yep, the place still has a repressive Marxist-Leninist regime. Yep, travel there is still pretty restricted.

But not totally restricted.

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Here's what we know: The couple traveled to the controversial country this week to celebrate five years of ridiculously wealthy marital bliss. Many details of the trip are sketchy, but we know that Beyoncé wore a lot of prints; had her hair piled on her head; posed for photos with Cuban kids; and was greeted by a mob of adoring fans that had to be watched closely by local cops.

The U.S. restricts many forms of American travel to Cuba. But not as much as it used to. There's a good chance that the Carter visit was on the up-and-up. In fact, there are even travel agencies out there, legit ones, that sell leisure packages. (Got $3,000 handy? You can spend nine days in Cuba and even see an "authentic Rumba block party.")

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The catch? The trip has to fall into a serious-sounding category that doesn't make Uncle Sam nervous: a "cultural exchange," a contribution to "humanitarian efforts" for less-fortunate people in Cuba, a "person-to-person" outreach effort with everyday Havana folk, that kind of thing.

No schmoozing with uppity-ups in the Cuban government, no shopping sprees that involve importing millions of dollars in Cuban cigars. Just eating out at restaurants and rubbing shoulders with locals, or, in Beyoncé's case, fans.

Exactly what kind of category was used to get Bey and Jay over to Cuba? Not clear at this hour. A local Cuban media outlet called it a "tourist trip." But given that these folks are, at their core, artists, would a "cultural exchange" visit surprise you?

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