Grammy-nominated singer-actress Maria Conchita Alonso had some strong opinions about President Obama’s trip to Cuba this week.
“I don’t like it,” the 58-year-old Love Maniac signer told TMZ. “I don’t like it because, for me — my personal thoughts — and many others think the same, What he just did was legalizing a regime that has been torturing Cubans and that has not been respecting [human rights]. The Castros don’t respect human rights. The Castros do not allow you to be yourself, to grow. And that’s horrible.”
She also rejected the White House’s most common justification for the president’s visit: That the Cuban government would be inspired to commit to change after meeting with Obama.
“No, I don’t [think it will change]. Not only because I know how the communists think, act, and what they are, but today, Raul Castro said that their policies are not going to change,” Alonso said. “That’s what they are. And it’s very sad that by his [Obama’s] presence there, he is telling the world that it’s okay to go to Cuba.”
Alonso, who was born in Cuba and raised in Venezuela before immigrating to the United States, has been a vocal critic of the communist dictatorships she grew up under. In 2011, the singer called actor Sean Penn a “communist a—hole” for his enthusiastic support of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez after the pair bumped into each other at LAX. The singer later wrote an open letter to Penn, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“Being born in Cuba, a country where freedom of speech is nonexistent, it’s startling to observe how Venezuela, where I was happily raised, is fast becoming Cuba’s mirror image: Dismantling of fundamental democratic rights deserved by its people and citizens of the world,” Alonso wrote.
In 2014, the singer-actress rallied outside the White House with dozens of other demonstrators to urge the U.S. to impose harsh sanctions on the Venezuelan government.