Beyonce and Jay-Z’s Cuba holiday causes political backlash

Posted on 8 April 2013
By Olivia Harding
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Celebrity power couple Jay Z and Beyonce have caused a political furore concerning their fifth anniversary trip to Havana, Cuba.

The Carters were all smiles as the posed for pictures with well-wishers as they ate at the Havana’s best restaurants and danced to Cuban music.

Despite their dominance of America’s capitalist and entertainment culture, Cuba’s state media was happy to highlight the couple’s trip.

But the visit is now also attracting the attention of Republican politicians from Florida’s Cuban-American community, where hatred of the Castro brothers’ regime runs deep.

American citizens are banned from visiting Cuba as normal tourists under the long-standing US trade embargo. Americans wishing to visit the island must first obtain licences to join organised tours for cultural, educational or religious visits.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, both members of the House of Representatives, have written to the Office of Foreign Assets Control, for “information regarding the type of license that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel”.

The politicians noted that the trip looks very much like a regular holiday and that the stars’ tourism dollars might be “supporting a murderous regime that opposes US security interests…and which ruthlessly suppresses the most basic liberties of speech, assembly, and belief”.

In the letter, they wrote: “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.”

Representatives for the couple did not immediately respond to media enquiries and the State Department said that it had no prior knowledge of the visit.

The couple, whose joint worth is estimated to be more than $800 million, could face a fine if they travelled without a license.