US officials probe Beyonce, Jay-Z’s trip to Cuba

Washington, April 10 (IANS/EFE) The US Treasury Department is investigating the trip music icons Jay-Z and Beyonce made to Cuba last week.

Republican lawmakers have requested an explanation about the type of travel authorization they were issued and whether their trip violated the conditions of Washington’s economic embargo against the island, The New York Times said.

The rap star and pop diva travelled to Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.

After learning of the trip, Florida Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen sent a request to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), which is responsible for monitoring compliance with commercial and financial sanctions with other countries.

The Cuban-American lawmakers asked for information regarding the type of authorization Beyonce and Jay-Z received from OFAC to make the trip.

“Cuba’s tourism industry is wholly state-controlled, therefore, US dollars spent on Cuban tourism directly fund the machinery of oppression that brutally represses the Cuban people,” the legislators said in a letter to the Treasury Department.

Treasury sources consulted by EFE confirmed the receipt of the legislators’ letter and said that they were preparing a response.

In 2011, the US instituted more flexible rules about travel to Cuba for groups of students, academicians, journalists or members of religious organizations with the aim of increasing “people-to-people” contacts.

Some members of the Cuban exile community have said that the couple’s visit was used for propaganda purposes by the regime in Havana.

However, the Times said that the trip was a private one and that Cuban authorities did not know about the pair’s arrival until the last minute.

During their three-day stay on the island, Beyonce visited a children’s theater group and the Contemporaneous Dance Company of Cuba to attend some informal rehearsals.

–IANS/EFE

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