GOP congressmen challenge Beyoncé and Jay-Z's visit to Cuba

Two Republicans from Florida ask how a vacation was approved to a country where U.S. tourism is prohibited

Published April 8, 2013 3:22PM (EDT)

Jay-Z and Beyoncé were recently spotted in Cuba to celebrate their five-year wedding anniversary, and, like all things Jay-and-Beyoncé, it made headlines around the world. But in the U.S., it's sparking controversy, as it conflicts with America's 53-year-long trade embargo that limits tourism.

Two congressmen from Florida, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, have raised this point in a letter to the Office of Foreign Assets Control, demanding to know the exact purpose of the celebrities' trip and how it was approved. The letter notes that under U.S. law "the licensing of financial transactions for 'tourist activities' in Cuba" are prohibited by law." According to OFAC, notes the letter, only Americans with a "full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba" are allowed to visit. "These restrictions are in place because the Cuban dictatorship is one of four U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism with one of the world’s most egregious human rights records," write Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart.

From the letter:

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. 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 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. We support the Cuban people by refusing to sustain their jailers.

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Beyonce Cuba Fidel Castro Florida Gop Jay-z Republican Party