Beyonce and Jay-Z 'rock Havana'
Beyonce and Jay-Z celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary this week in Havana.
HAVANA - American pop star Beyonce and rapper husband Jay-Z celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary this week in Havana, where big crowds greeted them as they strolled hand in hand through the Cuban capital.
They ate at some of the city's best restaurants, danced to Cuban music, walked through historic Old Havana and posed for pictures with admiring Cubans, who recognised them despite the past half-century of ideological conflict that separates the United States and Cuba.
They were the latest and perhaps greatest big-name American stars - actors Bill Murray, Sean Penn and James Caan among them - to visit the Caribbean island in the past few years, but the first to cause such a stir everywhere they went.
Fans in the street below cried out Beyonce's name as she and Jay-Z and their mothers dined at the upstairs restaurant La Guarida, famed as the location for the hit 1993 Cuban film "Strawberry and Chocolate."
A crowd of several thousand people swarmed around them in the main square of Old Havana, which prompted their security team to put a halt to their visit to the site.
"I was in the eye of the whirlpool. We had to cut it short because it got so crazy," said architect Miguel Coyula, who gave the couple a tour of the 16th century heart of the city.
The couple declined to talk to the media to explain the purpose of their visit. The source close to the group said they were invited by Cuba's tourism ministry.
The longstanding U.S. trade embargo against Cuba prevents most Americans from travelling to the island without a license granted by the U.S. government, though President Barack Obama's administration has eased restrictions on travel to Cuba for academic, religious or cultural exchanges.
In Washington, the State Department said it had no prior knowledge of the visit. A spokeswoman at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana said she did not know if the two stars obtained a licence for their trip, which if they did not could expose them to a fine.
Publicists for the couple did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment. The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which handles licenses for travel to Cuba, said it does not comment on individual cases.