Beyonce, Jay Z Cuba trip sparks controversy

U.S. singer Beyonce (L) and her husband rapper Jay-Z walk as they leave their hotel in Havana April 4, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa
U.S. singer Beyonce (L) and her husband rapper Jay-Z walk as they leave their hotel in Havana April 4, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa

Two Republican members of Congress have asked the U.S. Treasury Department for information on what type of license American pop star Beyonce and rapper husband Jay Z obtained for a high-profile trip to Cuba to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Beyonce and Jay Z celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary this week in Havana, where big crowds greeted them as they strolled hand in hand through the Cuban capital.

They ate at some of the city’s best restaurants, danced to Cuban music, walked through historic Old Havana and posed for pictures with admiring Cubans, who recognized them despite the past half-century of ideological conflict that separates the United States and Cuba.

In a letter dated on Friday, U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, asked Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, for “information regarding the type of license that Beyonce and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel.”

Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart represent districts in south Florida where there is a high Cuban-American population.

“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,” the letter said.

“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.”

Representatives for Beyonce did not immediately respond for comment on Saturday.

The long-standing U.S. trade embargo against Cuba prevents most Americans from traveling to the island without a license granted by the U.S. government, although President Barack Obama’s administration has eased restrictions on travel to Cuba for academic, religious or cultural exchanges.

In Washington this week, the State Department said it had no prior knowledge of the visit. A spokeswoman at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana said she did not know if the celebrity couple obtained a license for their trip. If they did not, they could be exposed to a fine.


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