Jay-Z and Beyonce Face Questions Over Cuba Vacation

Congressional Republicans are asking whether couple obtained permission for the trip

Jay-Z and Beyonce on the balcony of the Saratoga Hotel in Havana, Cuba.
STR/AFP/Getty Images
April 8, 2013 9:40 AM ET

Jay-Z and Beyoncé marked their fifth wedding anniversary last week in Havana, where they ate fine food, enjoyed Cuban music, posed for pictures with fans and celebrated with large crowds. Now two Republican members of Congress are demanding to know whether the couple had obtained a license from the federal government to make the trip, which is required under a longstanding U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

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According to Reuters, U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart – both from Florida – sent a letter last Friday to Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control for the U.S. Treasury Department. Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart wanted more "information regarding the type of license that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel." Because of the trade embargo, most Americans must obtain a license from the U.S. government to travel to Cuba. President Barack Obama's administration, however, has loosened travel restrictions for academic, religious or cultural exchanges.

"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," wrote Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart in the letter. "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."

The State Department has said that it had no prior knowledge of Jay-Z and Beyoncé's trip, and a spokeswoman for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana said she didn't know whether the couple had secured a proper license for their visit. Jay-Z and Beyoncé could face a fine if they failed to complete the proper paperwork.

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