(AFP, Havana) Pop star Rihanna danced to Cuban music and sampled local cuisine on an impromptu visit to Havana, the latest big name from the US music scene to visit the island.
Rihanna, who hails from Barbados, arrived “on the fly, as we Cubans say,” for an unscheduled visit, said Ernesto Blanco, the owner of the Restaurante-Paladar La Fontana, where she dined and danced Wednesday night shortly after flying to the island.
“She specifically asked to eat Cuban food,” he told AFP.
The “Umbrella” singer ate black beans, grilled chorizos, pork chops and a local dish called “grandma’s steak,” online magazine OnCuba said on its Facebook page.
She then jigged to “classic Cuban music” by the restaurant’s in-house band, it said.
Rumors had been circulating in Cuba that Rihanna was on her way to the island to film her next music video.
Blanco said Rihanna, 27, was traveling with four people, plus her bodyguards.
As a Barbadian national, Rihanna is not subject to US restrictions on travel to Cuba.
But she faces the same obstacles as other US residents to travel to the communist island, which commercial airlines cannot service directly from the United States under the 1962 embargo.
President Barack Obama has eased restrictions on travel to Cuba as part of the landmark rapprochement that he and his counterpart Raul Castro announced last December.
But currently only approved charter flights can connect the two countries.
Rihanna’s visit comes after pop diva Beyonce and her rapper husband Jay Z traveled to Cuba in April 2013 to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.
The US Treasury Department approved the couple’s trip as a cultural exchange, though it drew criticism from Republican lawmakers who accused them of violating the ban on tourism.