Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s choice in vacation destinations has drawn the ire of Republicans in Congress. U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, both GOP lawmakers representing South Florida, have a published a letter urging the Treasury Department to investigate the pop power couple’s recently reported visit to Cuba. The letter seeks details about what type of license the singer and the rapper had for their trip.
While the lawmakers make no specific accusations of wrongdoing, they strongly imply they believe Beyoncé and Jay-Z may have broken the law. The letter notes that U.S. law bans “tourist activities” in Cuba and that if Beyoncé and Jay-Z obtained a formal license for their trip, they would need to have, as a federal Cuba Travel Advisory states, “a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities.”
The lawmakers, whose districts include many Cuban immigrants, wrote: “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. 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.”
When asked for comment by Reuters, Beyoncé’s representatives didn’t immediately respond. Neither the U.S. State Department nor a U.S. spokesperson in Havana could tell Reuters if Beyoncé and Jay-Z had the required license. If they didn’t, they could be fined.
Reuters reported Monday (April 8) that the couple had obtained the proper license from the U.S. Treasury Department.
Reasonable people can disagree on the merits of a U.S. travel ban on Cuba. And it’s certainly true that funding murder and oppression would be bad things. But Ros-Lehtinen opposed South African leader Nelson Mandela’s visit to Florida in 1990, so she’s not exactly been a defender of human rights in all instances, either (Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years by the segregationist apartheid regime).
Also, conservatives have sometimes criticized Beyoncé for patently ridiculous reasons — such as Rush Limbaugh baldly misconstruing her song lyrics — so it’s hard to know which criticisms are reality-based.
It might bear mentioning that Bey (controversially, of course!) sang at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, and that she and Jay-Z raised money for the Democrat’s campaign.
It’s not clear what Mandela might’ve done to upset South Florida lawmakers.
Anyway, here’s Beyoncé salsa dancing in Havana.