Jay-Z and Beyonce may have been celebrating a personal milestone in the lap of luxury and adulation last week, but beneath the sheen of celebrity indulgence, their trip to Cuba was actually an important educational and cultural diplomatic exchange.
Such is the reasoning given by the Treasury Department in an official letter sent to Florida Republicans Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart; earlier this week, the pair — both from heavily Cuban-American districts — wrote a public note inquiring why pop culture’s royal couple was permitted to visit the communist nation despite heavy U.S. travel restrictions.
“It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group,” the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control explained to the two angered members of Congress. While the American government has long enforced stringent limitations on traveling to Cuba, organizations and individuals can apply to visit during trips that include a “a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that result in meaningful interaction between the U.S. travelers and individuals in Cuba.”
So, did Jay and Bey’s trip meet the requirements?
As has been previously reported, the pair did make stops at the Superior Institute of the Arts and were entertained by traditional dance troupes and children’s organizations, as well as several local legends, such as former Bomboleo singer Haila Mompié. On the flip side, they did bring their mothers and several bodyguards along, and indulged in both tourism and the island’s famed cigars.
An avowed Jay-Z fan and fellow Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio also objected to the trip, demanding, “The Obama Administration should explain exactly how trips like these comply with U.S. law and regulations governing travel to Cuba, and it should disclose how many more of these trips they have licensed.”