President Obama’s move to fully restore diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015 ended more than 50 years of Cold War hostility and historically marked a new era in U.S.-Cuba relations. But Cuban-born singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan says her home country is still struggling at the hands of its aggressive government.
In a conversation with HuffPost Live, the star said she thinks Cubans are “thrilled” about the political changes with the U.S., “because anything that’s a glimmer of hope to them is a wonderful thing to happen.” But, she added, not a whole lot has actually changed on the island.
“Most of the political changes have been here because in Cuba, there have been no changes,” she said. “They continue to abuse human rights.”
Estefan listed a few of the issues and abuses she thinks still need to be addressed in Cuba, and said she’s still hopeful that real political change is possible on the island.
“I’m still looking forward to the day where there’s actual political change in Cuba,” she said. “I think after 57 years, it has to be incremental. They can’t handle a sudden onslaught of democracy. That may not be what is the best for them, because they’ve lived in like a time warp for so long.”
But while she thinks the Obama administration’s loosened travel restrictions will create helpful “people-to-people contact” between Americans and the Cuban people, Estefan feels long-lasting political change must come from within the island.
“It has to come internally, the leaders of Cuba have to be the ones that have struggled,” Estefan said. “You can’t come from outside, having lived a comfy life somewhere else, and suddenly tell them what to do. I just think that wouldn’t be right or I don’t think it would work.”
Watch Gloria Estefan discuss Cuba in the clip above and her full conversation with HuffPost Live below: