Although some Cuban celebrities in Hollywood reacted with pleasure to President Barack Obama’s announcement that the United States will normalize relations with the communist Castro regime in Cuba, those who have opposed the regime simply remained silent. The publicist for music powerhouses Gloria and Emilio Estefan, both natives of Cuba, said the couple had no comment when queried by Fox News Latino.
The Daily Mail reported that Gloria Estefan’s parents fled to Miami from Cuba in 1959 when she was two-and-a-half-years old. Fidel Castro had ousted Fulgencio Batista. Her grandfather had been a commander in Batista’s army. Her father took part in the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, was captured, and spent two years in Castro’s jails. She and her husband returned in 1979, when Jimmy Carter temporarily allowed Americans to visit there. They did so to help her husband’s brother and two children, who were starved by Castro because they had announced they wanted to leave Cuba. In 1997, Pope John Paul II asked her to return to Cuba, but Gloria Estefan refused, saying, “I asked him to understand that with my presence it would turn his very beautiful spiritual mission into a political one. I could not have just sat there quietly and been a good girl. I would have needed to express my discontent at Fidel.”
Native Cuban Andy Garcia, who was Oscar-nominated for The Godfather, Part III, also refused to comment. The Sun Sentinel once quoted him as saying, “The media in America has [sic] always taken a sort of lenient point of view on the situation with Fidel Castro and what he stands for.”
Meanwhile, other celebrities, ignoring the suffering of the oppressed in Cuba, expressed delight that they would be able to visit the island.
A Most Violent Year actor Oscar Isaac, whose father is Cuban, told Variety Latino:
There has been something that’s been a little bit hypocritical about the isolation of Cuba versus our relations with China. It excites me because I am interested in going back – or going there in the first place. I’ve never been. It’s a part of my heritage that I have not been able to really experience, unlike Guatemala, which I visit all the time.
Singer and actress Christina Milian echoed on Instagram, “We’re finally going to visit Cuba and so will our children. #blessed #Cuba! Here we come!! S/o Mom & Dad. They’re both so excited right now. And my whole familia! #CubaLibre!”
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton enthused on Twitter, “I’ve literally had dreams about going to a free Cuba with @GloriaEstefan to watch her perform in concert. That dream is closer to a reality!”
Others were hopeful that the change in relations would trigger political changes. Actress Laz Alonso told Variety Latino, “I sincerely believe this is the first of many necessary steps towards helping the people of Cuba enjoy the freedoms that I have in exile.”
Daisy Fuentes, from Jersey Girls, tweeted, “No reason to celebrate until Cuban people are free. Let’s work to restore their human rights.” She added, “Formalizing relations w a torture regime means nothing if it can’t help the people of #Cuba #freedom is a basic human right.”