American royalty Beyonce and Jay-Z recently took their families on a vacation to Cuba, despite restrictions on American travel to that country. This has some Florida Republicans writing sternly worded letters to the Department of Treasury looking for answers.
Ms. Beyonce and Mr. Z, and their parents, went on a trip to Havana, Cuba this week coinciding with their fifth anniversary. They strolled through the city streets, ate at the cafes, and were mobbed by their adoring fans. Jay-Z smoked cigars. Beyonce was flawless. It was just like America! Except for all of the parts of the country that was nothing like America, like the communism. But the people treated the couple appropriately like the king and queen they are:
Their bodyguards’ presence outside set the gritty, bustling neighborhood of Center Havana abuzz, and a crowd gathered downstairs shouting Beyonce’s name until she went to a balcony and waved.
So everything was great, right? It was just a nice vacation? Wrong. There's a 51-year embargo on American travel to Cuba for tourism. You can apply for an academic, religious, journalistic or cultural exchange license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, but you can't just go there.
That's why Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart wrote a letter to Adam Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, asking about "the type of license that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel." Any money spent on tourism in Cuba directly supports to Castro government, they write, and to do that without a license is technically illegal. Cuban media reports repeatedly cited their trip as merely tourism, so now they're wondering if Beyonce and Jay-Z ever received a license to travel there. "The restrictions on tourism travel are common-sense 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 letter reads.
As the Associated Press notes, celebrities visit the country fairly often. They saw pictures of Jack Nicholson, Jodie Foster, Danny Glover, Will Smith, James Belushi while on their trip. And as the Daily Beast points out, Benicio Del Toro, Bill Murray, Robert Duvall, and James Caan visited the country on a "research project" a few years ago. Either way, if things get a little hairy they can always call on some of their close friends to help them out here.
Update, Monday 3:49 p.m.: The Treasury Department licensed the trip for cultural purposes, according to Reuters
(Correction: A previous version of this article identified Mario Diaz-Balart as a State Representative. Diaz-Balart is, in fact, a U.S. Rep.)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.