by Kate Newton
Because they clearly have nothing more important on their agenda, two members of Congress are demanding an investigation into Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s recent trip to Cuba.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republicans from Florida, wrote a letter appealing to the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control for further information on “the type of license” the Carters used to visit Cuba last week in celebration of their fifth anniversary, and who even approved of their trip in the first place.
The celebrity couple created quite the stir in Havana, forcing police to restrain crowds of fans as they dined in a local restaurant and drawing praise from Cuban artists who performed for the pair during their stay. But for Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and Rep Diaz-Balart, it’s all fun and games until you sponsor human rights violations with your cigar money.
From the letter to Adam Szubin:
As you know, U.S. law expressly prohibits the licensing of financial transactions for “tourist activities” in Cuba (Section 910(b)(1) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act). If these individuals were given people-to-people licenses, we would like to bring to your attention the Cuba Travel Advisory issued by OFAC on July 25, 2011 which states, “OFAC only licenses People-to-People Groups that certify that all participants will have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba.” 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.
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.
So basically, you can go to Cuba for educational purposes, but if you purchase anything while you’re there, you’ve directly funded terrorism.
The Obama administration has lightened the limitations on travelling to Cuba in the past several years, and while the Treasury Department authorized the trip beforehand, a statement was issued that the department was “respond[ing] accordingly” to the inquisitions made in the letter.
From what I can tell, Beyoncé’s beehive was the only crime committed during the trip, but fashion violations are still (hopefully) well out of the jurisdiction of the United States government.