In conjunction with their five-year marriage anniversary, Beyoncé and Jay-Z took a trip to Cuba last week to see the sites and smoke a few cigars. Now government officials are investigating the couple’s trip to the Communist-ruled country to see if they violated the United States’ 51-year embargo that prohibits American citizens from visiting the country for purely tourist reasons.
U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republican members of congress who represent districts in south Florida, have asked the U.S. Treasury Department for information on what type of license the two celebrities obtained for the trip.
In a letter to Adam Szubin, the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, they ask for “what purpose” Beyoncé and Jay-Z gave for their trip and “who approved such travel.”
“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.”
The letter goes on to say: “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.”
Though it is currently illegal to vacation in the country, Americans are able to travel there each year on academic, religious, journalistic or cultural exchange licenses. In 2011, President Obama started granting “people-to-people” licenses, which makes it easier for United States citizens who do not have special status (working journalists or scholars) to visit the country legally, The New York Times reported. The only requirement is that the traveler must go with a “licensed operator,” which currently includes the Harvard University Alumni Association or travel group Insight Cuba.