Beyonce and Jay-Z’s recent trip to Cuba was legal, US Treasury officials have confirmed.
The premiere music couple celebrated their fifth anniversary of their April 4, 2008 wedding in the country’s capital Havana last week.
While there, the “Single Ladies” singer and her hip hop mogul husband toured the historic city, posed for photos with locals who gathered in huge crowds to greet them and visited schools and museums. Local police provided additional security.
However, the trip sparked controversy when two Cuban-American members of Congress formally questioned the legality of the couple’s trip.
Rep. Ileansa Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republicans from Florida of Cuban descent sent a letter to Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the Treasury Department.
In it, the representatives asked for more information about Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Cuba visit, pointedly noting that the 1962 embargo established against Cuba by the US specifically prohibits citizens from going to the island and spending money without permission from the US government.
“As you know, US law expressly prohibits the licensing of financial transactions for ‘tourist activities’ in Cuba,” the GOP pair wrote. The representatives’ letter in full can be read here.
Ros-Lehtinen told CNN yesterday:
“We’re saying that no one is above the law, even if you are the diva Beyoncé, and that’s wonderful that she’s famous and rich, and Jay-Z, everybody loves him, too. Terrific. But no one’s above the law.”
In response, Senior Treasury official Alastair Fitzpayne replied in a letter to the two Republicans that the couple’s trip was part of a cultural exchange and did not violate the economic embargo imposed on the island by the US.
Although US citizens are not allowed to travel to Cuba just to holiday, they can get licences to visit on religious, cultural, journalistic or academic grounds.
These “people-to-people” licences were reinstated under President Obama’s administration, and it was on this basis that Beyonce and Jay-Z visited Cuba.
Fitzpayne’s letter (in part) read:
“It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organised by a group authorized by OFAC to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba.”
Beyoncé will shortly begin her world tour, “The Mrs. Carter Show,” in Serbia on April 15. Jay-Z will headline at London’s Wireless festival in July before a joint stadium tour with Justin Timberlake.