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Did an American rapper make it rain money in Havana? Somebody did — and bedlam ensued

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 2/17/2023 Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald
New York- born rapper Tekashi 6 ix9ine reacts to the New York Mets losing to the Miami Marlins in Miami on Aug. 3, 2021. © Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/TNS New York- born rapper Tekashi 6 ix9ine reacts to the New York Mets losing to the Miami Marlins in Miami on Aug. 3, 2021.

A U.S. rapper visiting Cuba is being blamed for creating chaos in a central Havana street when he allegedly started throwing what seemed like dollar bills to a crowd.

Images of the incident caught on video were embarrassing to the government and could have triggered an hourslong internet disruption, Cuban independent media reported this week.

Fans of Tekashi 6ix9ine, the stage name of Daniel Hernandez, had spontaneously gathered outside the Grand Packard Iberostar hotel in Old Havana in the iconic Paseo del Prado on Thursday after news of his stay became public on his social media accounts.

A video circulating on social media shows the moment people started running toward the front of the hotel while what look like dollar bills can be seen floating in the air. “Look, he threw money,” a Cuban man is heard saying in Spanish in the video. He later added “look at the Cuban people,” when more passersby joined the crowd.

According to Cuban independent news outlet 14ymedio, the rapper started throwing the bills from a car in front of the hotel. Other outlets reported that he threw the bills from a hotel window. While condemning the act and calling it “shameful,” Cuban official outlet Cubadebate also remained open to the possibility that someone impersonating the musician might have been to blame.

Shortly after the incident, internet users started experiencing problems with their connections, 14ymedio reported. Cuba’s state telecommunications company confirmed the service disruption but did not say what caused it. The service was restored several hours later on Thursday evening.

On Friday, the rapper published an Instagram story suggesting the money might not have even been real. He shared a video of a man saying, “I ain’t go no money, that money you be seeing me with on Instagrams that be fake money, props.”

In any case, Cuban authorities do not seem to have liked the stunt, as the Cubadebate article suggests. Their readers left several comments criticizing the gesture of throwing money — common among rappers — as “humiliating” to the Cuban people.

Hernandez, 26, a New York rapper of Mexican heritage, was sentenced to two years in prison in the U.S. in 2019 for crimes he committed while he was a member of a violent gang. He was charged with conspiracy to murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, racketeering and carrying a firearm. He faced several years in prison but accepted a plea and cooperated with U.S. authorities to get a reduced sentence.

It is unclear which license if any the rapper is using to visit Havana. Tourism to Cuba is still prohibited, but the Biden administration again allowed group travel to the island under the “people-to-people” educational travel category. U.S. travel agencies can organize tours to take Americans to Cuba, but they must include cultural and educational activities.

On his two Instagram pages, Hernandez has posted videos working out in Havana and running along the Malecon seaside promenade, hanging out at the hotel pool and looking at the multitude of fans in the street through his hotel window.


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