HAVANA - The United States refused to grant visas to world-renowned Cuban musicians who were invited to Sunday's Grammy music awards, Cuban officials said.
Ibrahim Ferrer, the 76-year-old singer from the Grammy-nominated Buena Vista Social Club, was dumbfounded to learn that, according to the Cuban Music Institute, the United States invoked a law that applies to terrorists, drug dealers and dangerous criminals to deny him a visa.
Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer of the Buena Vista Social Club, seen here in 2003, was denied a visa by the US authorities. (AFP/DDP/File)
"I don't understand because I don't feel I'm a terrorist. I am not, I can't be," he said at a news conference.
Ferrer has won three Grammys in recent years and has traveled to the United States in the past.
The other celebrated musicians who were denied visas were guitarist Manuel Galvan, pianist Guillermo Rubalcaba, percussionist Amadito Valdes, lute player Barbarito Torres and singer Eugenio Rodriguez.
The Cuban Music Institute called the US action a "new offense against Cuban culture and people."
"This policy is really hypocritical," said Abel Acosta, vice minister of culture and president of the music institute. "It's the most arbitrary in the world. They give visas to whom they want when they want to."
The Grammy-nominated musicians applied for their visas on December 24 at the US Interests Section in Havana.
The artists were interviewed by US consular officials on December 29 and were told of their visa denial Wednesday.
Last year, Cubans who were nominated to the Latin Grammys in Miami were also denied entry visas.
The United States broke diplomatic ties with the communist island more than 40 years ago.
Copyright 2004 AFP