By Erin McPike
(CNN) — Beyonce and Jay-Z’s recent controversial trip to Cuba was approved by the Treasury Department in advance of their travel, new documents show.
According to a letter obtained by CNN Tuesday, the Treasury Department wrote to two members of Congress who called for an investigation of the trip and explained the type of travel license obtained by the superstar couple.
“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 [the Office of Foreign Assets Control] to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba,” the letter read.
Due to the U.S. government’s travel embargo with Cuba, Americans are prohibited from visiting the communist country for tourism. U.S. citizens can apply for licenses to go anyway, provided they show substantial proof they intend to visit for specific reasons, such as for business or education. And they must also provide a detailed itinerary.
Beyonce and Jay-Z went to Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, leading press reports to characterize the trip as a vacation. The Havana Times, however, reported the couple met with a dance group, a children’s theater company, an arts institute and a singer, suggesting there was a cultural and educational element to the trip.
Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida took issue with the trip, and over the weekend asked the U.S. Treasury to investigate.
After receiving the Treasury’s response Tuesday, Ros-Lehtinen was not satisfied.
“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,” she said in a statement.
“That was a wedding anniversary vacation that was not even disguised as a cultural program. As more human rights activists engage in hunger strikes, I don’t think they will see any evidence of how this scam endeavor will help them become independent of the regime.”
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