Treasury OK'd Beyonce and Jay-Z's Cuba Trip, Source Says

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AP Photo/Ramon EspinosaU.S. singer Beyonce and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, are surrounded by body guards as they tour Old Havana where a street performer on stilts looks on, right, in Cuba, Thursday, April 4, 2013. R&B's power couple is in Havana on their fifth wedding anniversary.
Reuters reports, "American pop star Beyonce and rapper husband Jay Z visited Havana last week on a cultural trip that was fully licensed by the United States Treasury Department, according to a source familiar with the trip."

Two Florida Congressman are demanding an explanation from the Treasury, according to Christine Armario of the Associated Press:

MIAMI - Beyonce and Jay-Z's trip to Cuba has angered two Cuban-American politicians who are demanding information on whether the couple's visit to the communist island was licensed.

U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida have written to the U.S. Department of Treasury expressing concern about the trip. In the letter, both said they represent a community that has been "deeply and personally harmed by the Castro regime's atrocities."

"The restrictions on tourism travel are commonsense 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 GOP lawmakers wrote.

John Sullivan, a Treasury spokesman in Washington, said he could not comment on specific licenses. He said the agency was working on a response to the letter from Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart.

Beyonce and Jay-Z marked their fifth wedding anniversary in Havana last week. The state-run website CubaSi called it a tourist trip. The artists declined to speak with reporters.

U.S. citizens are not allowed to travel to Cuba for mere tourism, though they can obtain licenses for academic, religious, journalistic or cultural exchange trips. The so-called people-to-people licenses were reinstated under the Obama administration and are designed to help promote civil society and independence from Cuban authorities.

The U.S. government tightened requirements to obtain the licenses last year after Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., criticized the programs as cover-ups for tourism. Rubio derided groups that were granted licenses for activities such as salsa dancing and a trip to the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

The U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control issued new requirements last May that required travel operators to provide detailed information on every aspect of their trip.
On Monday, Rubio tweeted that if Jay-Z really wanted to know what Cuban life is like, he should have visited dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon. Rubio closed his tweet with the hashtag "99problems&dictatorsareone," a reference to Jay-Z's song "99 Problems."

During the R&B power couple's trip to Cuba, they ate at the renowned, privately run La Guarida restaurant and toured colonial Old Havana. They were followed by bodyguards and fans. Beyonce posed for photos with schoolchildren while Jay-Z puffed on a Cuban cigar.

Not all of the Cuban-American community lambasted their trip. Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban economist and analyst who lectures at the University of Denver, said the trip and subsequent fallout were "a call to take a fresh look at the U.S. policy toward Cuba with the candidness of an adolescent."

"It is difficult to defend a policy that stomps on the same rights it preaches," he wrote in a column published in The Huffington Post. "Since the migratory reforms made by Cuba in January, that eliminated most of the restrictions on travel from the totalitarian period, Cubans, under a communist regime have fewer legal impediments to visiting the U.S. than U.S. citizens have to visiting Cuba."

Beyonce and Jay-Z Cuba Trip Queried

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Swordfish

Of course! Jay and Barry are Iluminatti Brethren.

April 09 2013 at 4:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

The OBAMA people need cuba on his side when he tries to take over the world. He is nothing but an ANTI AMERICAN SOCIALIST. DEPORT HIM NOW. SAVE AMERICA

April 09 2013 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ianmcdonald357

People getting upset over a trip to Cuba that costs us NOTHING, but don't mind that US companies ship JOBS overseas, and keep profits off-shore to avoid paying taxes on them. SMH

April 09 2013 at 3:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ianmcdonald357's comment
Swordfish

Please. Do some work and check out Obamas off shore accounts and investments, or John Kerry's tax evasion boat docking.

April 09 2013 at 4:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
barbp61942

This is a free country. Everyone should be allowed to go. This is a hold over from the 1960s. So dumb to spend taxpayer money on this crap.

April 09 2013 at 3:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
johnmbays1

Isn't it about time to "Normalize" US & Cuban relations?

While we Long for Normalization in the relations between Israel and the Arab World - we ignore our own backyard.

April 09 2013 at 3:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
stanace27

I did not know jay-z was a convicted felon, for drug dealing!!! Not buying his albums, or any memorabilia anymore!!

April 09 2013 at 1:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to stanace27's comment
Swordfish

Drug dealing? How about also shot his brother and stabbed a record executive. Obama's typical criminal type buddy. Birds of a feather...

April 09 2013 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jrb359

Shame that Bounce and Jay Z didn't get one way tickets and take Lay Z with them.

April 09 2013 at 12:39 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Bobbi

why wouldn't obama OK this trip? he has these two as models for his girls....especially the husband who is a 'convicted' drug dealer...wonder how many children died with the drugs he sold in the past?.....what a sad day....he is just so celebrity struck it makes me sick....he has to be a role model for his girls, not so-called celebrities....and this shows he can't be

April 09 2013 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bobbi's comment
brenhatestwinkie

go barfandshut up clown

April 09 2013 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
razaminaz

Why wouldn't they be allowed to go? They are friends of the Obama's and gave to his campaign and have special privilages because of that. So this is just another couple of rock stars proving they have more rights than anyone else.

April 09 2013 at 11:42 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ronbobel7

people to people exchanges are for groups and not just a couple or a family. treasury should release info on how the license was given. better yet would be to end the travel ban so that the rest of us could also go to cuba legally as tourists rather than having to sneak in through third countries. conservatives should be for this change as well as they harp on so much about freedom. freedom to travel is a right for all americans. we are allowed to go to vietnam and even iran and north korea; why not cuba? no other country restricts travel there. we are looked on either as fools or ruled on this issue by the old line cubans in miami.

April 09 2013 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply