U.S. singer Beyonce poses for photos with school children as she tours Old Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 4, 2013. (Photo: AP)
Several days ago it was reported that "R&B’s power couple" Jay-Z and Beyonce were spending their fifth anniversary in Havana, Cuba.
Now, they are coming under fire for that decision from no less than two members of Congress, and a number of Cuban rights lobbyists.
Mauricio Claver-Carone, the D.C. director for the US-Cuba Democracy PAC, told TMZ: "There are women getting beaten on a daily basis, women who are being jailed for no reason ... people are fighting for their freedom. It’s extremely insensitive."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) are also interested in how the two were allowed to visit the country. For decades, it has been illegal for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba solely for tourism.
U.S. singer Beyonce and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, right, tours Old Havana as a body guard, left, and tour guide, right, accompany them in Cuba, Thursday, April 4, 2013. (Photo: AP)
The two representatives sent a letter to the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department about the issue. It reads, in part:
We write to express concern and to request information regarding the highly publicized trip by U.S. musicians Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (Beyoncé) and Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) to Cuba. We would like to respectfully request, within all applicable rules and guidelines, information regarding the type of license that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel.
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).
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....
At this point, a representative for the stars has not yet issued a statement.
But not everyone is upset.
"Yeesh!" popular celebrity blogger Perez Hilton weighed in. "While those are obviously serious human rights issues that deserve to be addressed and resolved as quickly and with as less violence as possible, we doubt the superstars meant any ill-will or malice by choosing the destination of their trip!"