By Alexander Britell
Music stars Jay-Z and Beyonce’s recent trip to Cuba was authorized by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, according to a letter received by Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
The letter was sent by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the government agency that approves travel licences to Cuba.
According to the letter, the pair’s trip was authorized as an “educational exchange,” one of the few criteria available for legal travel to the Caribbean island.
“It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized by OFAC to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba,” the office wrote.
The two had ostensibly traveled to Cuba to mark their fifth wedding anniversary.
Ros-Lehtinen, whose statement questioning the legality of the trip Friday sparked a national controversy, criticized the government’s approval in a statement.
“If the tourist activities undertaken by Beyonce and Jay-Z in Cuba are classified as an educational exchange trip, then it is clear that the Obama Administration is not serious about denying the Castro regime an economic lifeline that US tourism will extend to it,” the Florida Representative said. “That was a wedding anniversary vacation that was not even disguised as a cultural program.”
The White House chimed in on the controversy earlier this week at a press briefing, saying it did not have an insight into the particular trip and that such matters were for the Treasury Department.
“As more human rights activists engage in hunger strikes, I don’t think they will see any evidence of how this scam endeavour will help them become independent of the regime,” Ros-Lehtinen said.