When the White House has to make a statement in response to a Hip-Hop song, the far reaching influence of the artist can not be called into question.
Jay-Z‘s song, “Open Letter,” written in response to the national backlash he and wife Beyonce have received for taking a “cultural” trip to Cuba on on their 5th anniversary, was the subject of a White House press conference during which Press Secretary Jay Carney dismissed the rapper’s claims that he spoke with President Barack Obama about the controversial trip.
“I know the other day you said that the Treasury cleared their trip,” said one reporter. “He suggested that he got White House clearance and that he personally spoke with President Obama [about the trip].”
The reporter then went on to quote the lyrics in question: “Turn Havana to Atlanta/Boy from the hood but got White House clearance/Obama said chill you’re going to get me impeached/We don’t need this s*** anyway/Chill with me on the beach.”
Laughter could be heard throughout the room, then Carney responded:
“I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury,” Carney joked. “Because Treasury offers and gives licenses for travel as you know, and the White House has nothing to do with it.”
See exchange below:
As previously reported by NewsOne, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart wrote a letter to Adam Szubin, director of the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control, to attain information on the type of license the power couple was granted to enter the country.
Though the U.S. has prohibited its citizens from merely touring Cuba, academic, religious or journalistic licenses are allowed.
Read a portion of their letter below:
“We would like to respectfully request, within all applicable rules and guidelines, information regarding the type of licence that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel,” they wrote.
“If these individuals were given people-to-people licenses, we would like to bring to your attention the Cuba Travel Advisory issued by OFAC on July 25, 2011 which states, ‘OFAC only licenses People-to-People Groups that certify that all participants will have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba.’”
“US dollars spent on Cuban tourism directly fund the machinery of oppression that brutally represses the Cuban people.”
In response to their inquiry, the Treasury confirmed Wednesday that the couple did in fact travel legally:
“It is our understanding that the travelers in question travelled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group” licensed by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the department said in a letter dated Tuesday.
Actress and Romney supporter Stacey Dash, cousin to Dame Dash, Jay-Z’s former friend and c0-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, took to Twitter to voice her anger at the trip:
Do you care that The Jay Z"s have taken the capital you have given them and funded a communist oppressive regime?