The White House announced Monday President Joe Biden held a Zoom video conference call with Cuban-American celebrities in an attempt to organize a policy in response to nationwide anti-communist protests on the island.
The call was hosted by the Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond and an administration national security advisor for the region.
CBS Miami reporter Jim DeFede revealed, citing a White House press release, that the call included celebrity musician Gloria Estefan; her husband, producer Emilio Estefan; and actor Andy Garcia. The rest of the list included business leaders, lobbyists, and a playwright. DeFede named only one Cuban religious leader, Father Fernando Hería, on the list. Notable omissions include all Cuban-American senators, former political prisoners residing in the United States, and leaders of humanitarian and human rights groups specializing in Cuban issues in Florida.
The White House just released a "readout" on a "listening session" with Cuban American leaders. The WH did not identify who was part of the ZOOM meeting but @CBSMiami has learned the names include Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Andy Garcia, Luis Lauredo, and Carlos Saladrigas. 1/x pic.twitter.com/weJrIEBfhO
— Jim DeFede (@DeFede) July 20, 2021
The White House issued a readout of the call to reporters noting that the officials “underscored that the White House is monitoring the situation in Cuba closely and that addressing the moment and ongoing situation in Cuba is a top priority for the Administration.”
Gloria Estefan expressed her support for the Cuban protesters on Thursday on Instagram, calling for the United States to condemn the violence from the Cuban government in response to overwhelmingly peaceful protests against the regime in dozens of cities.
“The United Nations &, very especially, the United States, must strongly condemn the repressive & violent measures being taken by the Cuban government against their own people! Spread the images, spread the word!” she wrote.
President Biden has faced pressure from the Cuban exile community to act in support of the people of Cuba, who are largely impoverished and unarmed save for rocks thrown in response to Cuban State Security officials opening fire on crowds of protesters. The Cuban Communist Party has ordered violent suppressions of recent protests and shut down the internet to stifle organization from the opposition.
The Biden administration has struggled when addressing the widespread protests, falsely claiming they were in protest of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
After several days of criticism for his lackluster response to the protests, Biden publicly stated Thursday that communism was a “failed system” and that Cuba was “repressing” its citizens, but has yet to take any action.