Two Florida Republicans are prompting the Obama administration to open an investigation into Beyonce and Jay-Z’s recent trip to Cuba, arguing that the couple may have violated sanctions against the communist country.
Former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and her colleague Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart sent a letter to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on Friday, calling for an investigation into whether any laws were broken during the celebrities’ trip:
We write to express concern and to request information regarding the highly publicized trip by U.S. musicians Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (Beyoncé) and Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) to Cuba. We would like to respectfully request, within all applicable rules and guidelines, information regarding the type of license that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel. [...]
Cuba’s tourism industry is wholly state-controlled; therefore, U.S. dollars spent on Cuban tourism directly fund the machinery of oppression that brutally represses the Cuban people.
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.
Beyonce and Jay-Z did recently travel to Cuba for their fifth anniversary, a move that has upset many in the Cuban-American community. Ros-Lehtinen in particular represents a large Cuban population, and has been a major factor in preventing lawmakers from lifting the fifty-year old embargo on Cuba, despite both international and domestic support for such a measure.
Travel from the United States to Cuba strictly for tourism purposes is currently illegal under the U.S. embargo, but the ban is frequently flouted. Americans who want to legally travel to Cuba can use “people-to-people licences,” visas that allow for education exchanges between the two countries. In their letter, Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart question whether the Obama administration provided Mr. and Mrs. Carter with such licences and for what purpose.
Both Beyonce and Jay-Z have been outspoken in their support for Obama, making them easy targets for Republicans. The couple hosted a star-studded fundraiser for the Obama campaign in 2012, and both have performed for the President on numerous occasions.