Exclusive : Beyonce, Jay-Z visited Cuba with Treasury Department OK - source

Mon Apr 8, 2013 6:49pm EDT
 
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By David Adams

MIAMI (Reuters) - A visit by American pop star Beyonce and rapper husband Jay-Z to Havana last week was a cultural trip that was fully licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department, a source familiar with the itinerary said on Monday.

The longstanding U.S. trade embargo against Cuba prevents most Americans from traveling to the communist-led island without a license granted by the U.S. government.

Two Cuban American members of Congress, both Republicans representing south Florida and supporters of a firm stance on Cuba, had asked the Treasury Department for information on what type of license the couple obtained for their trip.

Beyonce and Jay-Z celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in Havana and were greeted by big crowds as they strolled through the Cuban capital. The music industry power couple were instantly recognized as celebrities despite the past half-century of ideological conflict that separates the two countries.

The source told Reuters that the trip included visits with Cuban artists and musicians, as well as several nightclubs where live music was performed, and some of the city's best privately run restaurants, known as "paladares."

The visit was planned as a "people-to-people" cultural visit and involved no meetings with Cuban officials, or typical tourist activity such as trips to the beach, the source said. Even a walk around the Old City of Havana, mobbed by crowds of excited Cuban spectators, was led by Miguel Coyula, one of the city's leading architects.

Publicists for the couple did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment.

Beyonce and Jay-Z were the latest American stars joining actors Bill Murray, Sean Penn and James Caan who have also visited the Caribbean island in the past few years. But the pair were the first to cause such a stir everywhere they went.   Continued...

 
U.S. singer Beyonce (L) and her husband rapper Jay-Z walk as they leave their hotel in Havana April 4, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa