Was Beyonce and Jay-Z's Trip to Cuba Legal?
STORY BY Candace Bryan
Published: April 10, 2013
This past week there has been a media frenzy over a trip music power-couple Beyonce and Jay-Z took to Cuba for their fifth wedding anniversary. Since the U.S. embargo against Cuba prohibits Americans from travelling to the country without a license from the Treasury Department, people are wondering why the couple was allowed to visit. The couple claims their trip was legal, but exactly how?
Senator Mark Rubio angrily demanded to know, saying “The Obama administration should explain exactly how trips like these comply with U.S. law and regulations governing travel to Cuba and it should disclose how many more of these trips they have licensed.” He even went so far as to imply there were some shady dealings, and that the Cuban government was using the celebrities’ trip for propaganda purposes.
The Senator probably feels a bit foolish now, because as it turns out, their trip was entirely legal. While many suspected Beyonce and Jay-Z had gotten special treatment from Obama himself or had blatantly broken the law, this was not the case. Their trip was organized by Academic Arrangements Abroad, a travel company that organizes trips for what is know as “people to people” travel. “People to people” travel is an educational form of travel that is designed for exposure to other cultures and the spread of democracy. Academic Arrangements Abroad obtains the necessary legal documents for Cuba travel, and organizes small trips for qualified people who qualify.
That’s why, instead of merely relaxing on a beach and sipping tropical drinks, Beyonce and Jay-Z were seen shaking hands, taking in music and dance performances, learning about architecture, and talking to children. Everything they did was in perfect compliance with the mission of “people to people” travel. They met Cubans and experienced the country’s culture. This apparent legality of their stay hasn’t stopped many from being outraged, but there still seems to be lingering confusion about how travelling to Cuba works. There’s also much questioning about whether travel there should still be illegal, and Beyonce and Jay-Z’s high-profile trip may very well open the door to a new look at the U.S. government’s embargo policies.
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