Beyonce and Jay-Z's Cuba trip sparks questions over US trade embargo

The pair were greeted by big crowds as they strolled through Havana
  • @James_Legge

Pop power couple Jay-Z and Beyonce have caused a small furore over a fifth wedding anniversary trip to Cuba.

The pair were greeted by big crowds as they strolled through the capital, Havana, where they ate at some of the city's best restaurants, danced to Cuban music, walked through historic Old Havana and posed for pictures with locals.

But a long-standing US trade embargo against Cuba prevents most Americans from traveling to the Communist-ruled island without a license from the government.

And on Friday two Republican members of congress for Florida asked Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, for "information regarding the type of license that Beyonce and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel."

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart represent districts where there is a high Cuban-American population.

The letter said: "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."

Beyonce's representatives did not immediately respond for comment yesterday.

The State Department said it had no prior knowledge of the trip, and a spokeswoman at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana said she did not know if the couple obtained a license for their trip. If they did not, they could face a fine.

The embargo is not as stringent as it once was, with President Barack Obama's administration easing restrictions on travel to Cuba for academic, religious or cultural exchanges.