Treasury stood behind music stars' cultural visit to Cuba
MIAMI — A visit by American pop star Beyonce and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, to Havana last week was a cultural trip that was fully licensed by the Treasury Department, a source familiar with the trip said on Monday.
The longstanding trade embargo against Cuba prevents most Americans from traveling to the communist-led island without a license granted by the government.
Two Cuban American members of Congress, both Republicans representing south Florida and supporters of a firm stance on Cuba, had asked the Treasury Department for information on what type of license the couple obtained for their trip.
Beyonce and Jay-Z celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in Havana and were greeted by big crowds as they strolled through the Cuban capital. Cubans recognized the music industry power couple as celebrities despite the past half-century of ideological conflict that separates the two countries.
The source told Reuters that the trip included visits with Cuban artists and musicians, as well as several nightclubs where live music was performed, and some of the city's best privately run restaurants, known as “paladares.”
The visit was planned as a “people-to-people” cultural visit and involved no meetings with Cuban officials, or typical tourist activity, such as trips to the beach, the source said.
Publicists for the couple did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment.
Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart questioned the authorization for the couple's trip, arguing that isolating Cuba is the best way to force it to change its one-party political system.
Ros-Lehtinen, long a fierce critic of the Cuban government, said she found it “very disconcerting that these two mega stars would go down to Cuba and vacation as if they were in a tropical paradise and not say one word about the brutality their hosts display against all pro-democracy activists.”
Diaz-Balart's office said he would not comment further until there was official confirmation of the license for Beyonce and Jay-Z's trip.
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which handles licenses for travel to Cuba, said it does not comment on individual cases. The office provides licenses to visit Cuba on a case-by-case basis for educational exchanges, and for programs to promote “people-to-people contact” and “contribute to the development of civil society in Cuba,” according to Treasury Department guidelines.
“It's hard to imagine a more people-to-people contact visit than the scenes witnessed last week on the streets of Havana with two of the United States biggest music stars wading through crowds of fans they never knew they had,” said John McAuliff, executive director for the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, an organization working to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Government survey: More teens trying out e-cigarettes than real thing
- New York farmers lament lost opportunity for natural gas riches with fracking ban
- Florida officer slain; 1 charged
- Georgia prosecutor Yates tapped for No. 2 post in Justice Department
- Coal mines near record low in worker deaths
- Police: NYC cop killer invited people to watch shooting
- New York City subways slowly upgrading from 1930s-era technology
- Arizona immigrants OK’d to apply for driver’s licenses
- Veteran NBC newsman Brokaw says his cancer is in remission
- Nativity scene placed by Satanic display at Michigan Capitol
- IBM’s Watson supercomputing system to be applied to PTSD