Beyonce and Jay-Z marked their fifth wedding anniversary in Havana despite the fact that the U.S. embargo with Cuba makes it illegal for Americans to visit as tourists.
A U.S. Treasury Department investigation found that the 2013 trip taken by hip-hop power couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé to Cuba was legal and did not violate U.S. travel sanctions to the communist island.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé obtained permission from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to visit the blacklisted country, under a license that allows cultural exchanges.
The trip, however, drew the ire of some U.S. lawmakers after images of the two music stars having fun in the streets of Havana emerged and legislators claimed that the photos could be used by the government of Raúl Castro as propaganda.
That Treasury Department investigation, released Wednesday, found that the OFAC’s “determination that there was no apparent violation of U.S. sanctions with respect to Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s trip to Cuba was reasonable,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
U.S. citizens are not allowed to travel to Cuba for mere tourism, though they can obtain licenses for academic, religious, journalistic or cultural exchange trips. The so-called people-to-people licenses were reinstated under the Obama administration and are designed to help promote civil society and independence from Cuban authorities.
But the U.S. government tightened requirements to obtain the licenses last year after Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, criticized the programs as cover-ups for tourism. Rubio derided groups that were granted licenses for activities such as salsa dancing and a trip to the Cuban Ministry of Culture.
The OFAC issued new rules last May that required travel operators to provide detailed information on every aspect of their trip.
Many Americans have tried to get around the regulations, traveling to Cuba via other countries, such as Mexico and Canada. Often, Cuban immigration officials at airports do not stamp Americans’ passports to help them avoid problems once they return to the United States.