Maybe Beyoncé was right, she and her husband Jay-Z are the next Bonnie and Clyde. Amid consternation from Cuban American Republicans, Jay-Z released today “Open Letter,” a song in part about the questionable legality of his fifth wedding anniversary in Havana, Cuba.
“I done turned Havana into Atlanta,” Jay-Z raps. “[…] Boy from the hood, I got White House clearance… Politicians never did s— for me except lie to me, distort history… They wanna give me jail time and a fine. Fine, let me commit a real crime.”
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told the press that permission to visit Cuba is granted “at the individual level” by the Treasury Department. When pressed further about Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s trip, he deflected the question again to Treasury.
Jay Z later raps: “Hear the freedom in my speech… Obama said, ‘Chill you gonna get me impeached. You don’t need this s— anyway, chill with me on the beach.’”
According to Reuters, Beyoncé and Jay-Z did not meet with Cuban officials, or go to the beach. They did meet with Cuban artists, musicians, and dancers, as well as go to nightclubs with live music and to a children’s theater group.
Three Republican Cuban Americans, Sen. Marco Rubio and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart have raised an uproar over the trip, which the Treasury Department has said it approved as a part of its cultural learning experience. In a statement Monday, Sen. Rubio said, “U.S. law clearly bans tourism to Cuba by American citizens because it provides money to a cruel, repressive and murderous regime.” “The Obama Administration should explain exactly how trips like these comply with U.S. law and regulations governing travel to Cuba,” he added.
In a letter Tuesday to Rep. Diaz-Balart, the Treasury Dept. confirmed that the trip was legal. “It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip,” said the Treasury official. It was “organized by a group authorized by OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba.”
In “Open Letter” it doesn’t appear that the trip was very educational.
“I’m in Cuba, I love Cubans. This communist talk is so confusing,” raps Jay-Z.
Update: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today was asked if Jay-Z had “White House clearance” to go to Cuba, as he mentions in “Open Letter.” Carney denied any White House involvement and deferred to the Treasury Department again, replying, “I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury.” There are, of course, many words that rhyme with “Treasury,” including “bakery,” “diary,” “chicory,” “usury,” “trickery,” and “mockery.” I’m sure Jay-Z could even make “Carney” rhyme with “Treasury.”