Beyoncé, Jay-Z in Cuba an Image Problem in Any Language

On April 4, Beyoncé and Jay-Z were photographed on vacation in Cuba for their fifth wedding anniversary. The couple was spotted on the streets of Havana dressed in designer clothes, with Beyoncé snapping photos on an expensive DSLR camera as Jay-Z puffs on a cigar.

While the vacation may look ordinary, it has sparked attention from the government. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) and Mario Diaz-Belart (R) have contacted the U.S. Foreign Assets Control Department to find out the purpose of the trip and if they obtained the proper credentials for travel to the island.

Since the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s, travel from the U.S. to Cuba has been prohibited by federal law unless the travelers are given permission by the U.S. government. This permission is only granted for “journalistic, academic, humanitarian and other special reasons that exclude simple tourism,” according to ABC News.

In their letter, Reps. Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Belart wrote:

“We write to express concern and to request information regarding the highly publicized trip by U.S. musicians Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (Beyoncé) and Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) to Cuba. We would like to respectfully request, within all applicable rules and guidelines, information regarding the type of license that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel. … 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. …  The restrictions on tourism travel are common-sense measures meant to prevent U.S. dollars from supporting a murderous regime that opposes U.S. security interests at every turn and which ruthlessly suppresses the most basic liberties of speech, assembly, and belief.”

The Carters have yet to comment on the reason for their trip. It’s been an interesting year for Beyoncé; after her lipsyncing controversy at the President’s inauguration in January, she triumphantly proved her performance skills at the Super Bowl XVLII halftime show. Her performance positioned her as one of the most powerful individuals in entertainment, only aided by an HBO documentary, a sell-out world tour, covers of U.S. Vogue and GQ, and an advertising deal with Pepsi worth a reported $50 million.

For a couple so used to press attention and controversy, will this Cuba trip have any impact on their reputation? Or is it another hurdle that makes an already mysterious couple  look even shadier?

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