The POTUS Visits Miami

Obama meets with Estefans, talks at Adrienne Arsht center.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    David Naranjo via Twitter
    Gloria Estefan shows President Barack Obama pictures of the Damas de Blanco being abused in Cuba.

    It wasn't all cocktails and hors d'oeuvres for Gloria Estefan and President Barack Obama in Miami last night. 

    Estefan took her time with the Commander-in-Chief Thursday night to talk about her homeland of Cuba.  

    Obama in Miami

    [MI] Obama in Miami
    President Obama visits Miami for a fundraising trip, which included a stop at Gloria Estefan's Miami Beach mansion.

    Obama was with Estefan, her husband Emilio and about 100 others as part of a quaint, $30,000 per ticket pair meet and greet on Miami Beach at her Star Island mansion.  

    Before Obama left the Estefan compound, he reportedly spent 15 minutes with the Estefans on all things Cuba. Gloria showed the President graphic pictures of the Ladies in White, an activist group in Havana, being dragged through the streets of Cuba during a peaceful protest.

    Gloria Estefan Speaks of Liberty at March

    [MI] Gloria Estefan Speaks of Liberty at March
    The Cuba-born singer reflects on events in Havana and the need for freedom.

    Obama was given two letters from Cuban dissidents involved in the Ladies in White movement as well. Twitter pics from the benefit show Obama and Estefan cozy like college buddies inside, with Obama looking over the photos intently.

    Obama also took time scaring up cash for the Democrats at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. About 1,000 supporters showed up for that one, which was less pricey at $250 and $1,250 per ticket.

    Ladies in White March

    [MI] Ladies in White March
    Demonstrators talk freedom and Cuba

    “It’s good to be back in the Sunshine State!” said the President to an appreciative roar. "Miami, I've come back here tonight to tell you we've kept that promise. That change is beginning to take hold in Washington and all across the country."

    The event is expected to bring in about $2.5 million for Democratic candidates like Kendrick Meek, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat.

    The Estefan cocktail reception which will also benefit the Democratic National Committee had many local Republican fans of the singer wishing she'd stick to singing.

    "People have been very upset," Ninoska Perez-Castellon, a director of the Cuban Liberty Council and a commentator on Spanish-language Radio Mambi, told the Sun-Sentinel. "It's one thing to have the ear of the president, but what's shocking is that they are doing a fundraiser for Democrats."
     
    Estefan and husband Emilio have been careful to stay party neutral throughout her career, even as she championed several causes including democracy in her homeland of Cuba.

    Last month's march through Little Havana to support the Ladies in White, organized by Estefan, brought out 100,000 supporters focused on freedom, not party politics.

    But the Estefan's support of Obama, whose recent policies regarding Cuba irked Cuban-Americans in Miami and elsewhere, is a bit puzzling, some said.

    "That's their choice," said Perez-Castellon. "Obviously, I don't agree with raising funds for the Democrats in the way they are doing it. But if [Emilio Estefan] wants this time with the president, I hope he uses it to convince Obama that lifting sanctions [on Cuba] is not the way to go."

    Along with the backlash is coming praise from some who feel anyway of helping the Cuban freedom cause if the right way.

    "It seems strange because I always thought they were Republicans," Little Havana resident Juan Vivo, 74, told the Sun-Sentinel. "But this is fine with me. Everyone needs to change, over there [in Cuba] and here."