UPDATE 4/9: Treasury Department Spokesman John Sullivan told Billboard that he “could not comment on specific licenses” to U.S. residents visiting Cuba. Additionally, Nancy Szalwinski at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana said that the department was unaware of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s until they arrived in Cuba.
Jay-Z has 99 problems and his trip to Cuba is one of them.
The rap legend and his pop superstar wife Beyonce visited the Caribbean country to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. Back home, however, the couple’s choice of destination has drawn fire from Republicans and launched a news story which is making waves around the globe.
Cuba is, of course, a Communist country. A long-term embargo effectively bans American tourists from visiting Cuba without special US government permission.
On learning of the power-couple’s travel itinerary, two Republican members of Congress — Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart – have asked the US treasury department to confirm whether the Carters clearance to make the visit.
“Cuba’s tourism industry is wholly state-controlled; therefore, US dollars spent on Cuban tourism directly fund the machinery of oppression that brutally represses the Cuban people,” they wrote to the Obama administration.
Cuba has an enduring connection with music and has long served as a well for creatives. Ernest Hemingway had a famous love affair with the country’s capital Havana — and its many bars. American guitarist Ry Cooder brought Cuban music to the masses when he spearheaded the 1997 project “Buena Vista Social Club.” The album went on to win a Grammy Award and sold millions.
The embargo has been in place for well over 50 years, though US President Barack Obama has recently eased restrictions on academic, religious or cultural exchanges.
Jay Z and Beyonce visited the Cuban capital Havana on Thursday, where they visited historical landmarks and mingled with locals. The pair looked the part; Jay-Z wore a fedora and chomped on a huge cigar as they did the rounds.
To date, neither has addressed the Republicans’ comments on their choice of travel destination.