The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 8, 2013

Marino, Barletta knock Beyonce, Jay-Z for Cuba trip

— SUNBURY — U.S. Reps Lou Barletta and Tom Marino have joined with fellow Republicans in demanding an investigation into how mega musical superstars Beyonce and Jay-Z received permission to vacation in Cuba.

Last week, Beyonce Knowles-Carter and Shawn Carter, known as Jay-Z, were photographed in Old Havana apparently celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, reports said. The couple strolled around, took pictures and smoked cigars.

Tourism is prohibited under America’s 50-year-old trade embargo against Cuba, and Barletta, R-11 of Hazleton, and Marino, R-10 of Cogan Station, are in agreement with what U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, both of Florida, wrote in a letter to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on Friday.

The two Florida Republicans are suggesting that Beyonce and Jay-Z violated travel restrictions to the communist island.

“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 Florida politicians wrote.

Cuba was a popular getaway for Americans in the 1950s, but as of 1959, visiting and spending money there was outlawed after Fidel Castro took power.

Marino said: “Our country has maintained an embargo against Cuba for more than 50 years because its regime refuses to recognize basic human rights and is at odds with our security interests. Numerous press reports of the recent trip indicate that the trip was tourism, which would not only be illegal, but would also be an extreme display of disrespect to the hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans living in our country who have suffered at the hands of this oppressive regime.”

“As a former federal prosecutor,” he continued, “I believe that when any American — regardless of their celebrity status or personal relationship with the president — violates our laws, they must be held accountable. Although I have come to expect this ‘one percent’ mentality and behavior from the first family, I join with my colleagues from Florida in demanding a full investigation of this matter by the administration and an appropriate action if it is found that the law was violated.”

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