Jay-Z, Beyoncé Taking Heat for Cuba Trip, Face Investigation by Florida Republicans

Two members of Congress are probing whether the music superstars skirted U.S. restrictions on travel to the Caribbean country

By Josh Grossberg Apr 08, 2013 1:01 PMTags
Beyonce, Jay-Z, CubaAP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

Jay-Z and Beyoncé were in a Cuba state of mind. Unfortunately for them, there's this little thing called an embargo. 

The powerhouse couple vacationed in the Communist island nation last week to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. But little did H.O.V.A. and Bey expect that their visit would come under fire from two members of Congress who are now asking the Treasury Department to investigate whether they violated the long-standing U.S. embargo restricting travel to Cuba.

Florida Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Maro Dias-Balart sent a letter on Friday to Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, seeking "information regarding the type of license that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel."

"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," read the missive, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

The Republican lawmakers said they were prompted to look into the matter since they represent districts with a high number of Cuban-Americans, many of whom have long memories of the Cuban government's alleged human-rights violations.

"We 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," continued the letter.

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The U.S. government bans travel to Cuba for tourism under the 50-year-old embargo except under certain approved situations that require licenses, such as cultural exchanges or journalistic endeavors. The Obama administration relaxed part of the ban in 2011 to allow "people to people" tours whereby U.S. citizens could go if they signed up with a travel organization.

However, many Americans get around the ban by entering Cuba from a third country, like Jamaica or Cancun, and requesting Cuban immigration officials not to stamp their passports. They also cannot use American money during their visit. Those found to be in violation face sanctions including heavy fines.

A rep for Jay-Z and Beyoncé was unavailable for comment.