Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gloria Estefan's 'rare personal move'

When reading stories in Miami's number one information source, I have to constantly remind myself that the stuff that's omitted from a story is sometimes more important than what makes it in the paper.

Consider today's story in the Miami Herald on Gloria Estefan's announcement that she'll lead a march this Thursday on Calle Ocho "to express exile solidarity with Havana's Ladies in White."

The story was first posted on the Herald's Website Tuesday.

Written by long-time Herald staffer Alfonso Chardy, it contained this over-the-top lede: "It's not often that a world-class celebrity like singer Gloria Estefan talks about Cuba and the situation there or calls for a protest march in support of people who oppose the regime in Havana."

By the time the story appeared in Wednesday's paper, Gloria had been transformed, either by Chardy or a Herald editor, from a "world-class celebrity" to just a garden variety "musical icon."
In a rare personal move, Miami musical icon Gloria Estefan stepped into the international political spotlight Tuesday to say she was organizing a Little Havana march in support of Las Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), the wives and mothers of imprisoned Cuban opponents of the Raúl Castro regime.

Dressed in white at a news conference, the Cuba-born singer and songwriter passionately urged Cuban exiles and others to join her in the march as an expression of solidarity with the Cuban women who last week were violently harassed during a street march to mark the anniversary of the 2003 jailing of 75 dissidents. The Miami march is being held on Calle Ocho, beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday.
The Herald's Chardy tells his readers that Gloria's plans to march are a "rare personal move." Apparently that justified the placement of this story on the Herald's front page.

The irony here is that Gloria's support for the people of Cuba, is indeed, rare.

A check of the Herald's archives dating back to 1982 reveals that the paper has printed hundreds of stories and hundreds of thousands of words - in the process killing untold numbers of trees - idolizing the Herald's Miami's sweetheart.

But in almost none of those stories does Gloria speak out with any real conviction against the Castro regime.

In 1982, Gloria's name appeared in just one story:
A lot of people have yet to discover that one of the hottest groups in Latin America is the Miami Sound Machine, a 10-member collection of locals who will be featured Sunday as part of the All-America Weekend on Miami Beach.

They will appear at 7 p.m. Sunday at 79th Street and Collins Avenue.

The group consists of singers Gloria Estefan and Mercy Murciano backed by eight musicians: Emilio Estefan , Raul Murciano, Kiki Garcia, Marcos Avila, Wesley Wright, Luis Perez, Victor Lopez and Ray Fischer.

Their album, Otra Vez, is No. 3 on Latin charts, and they may break into the English-speaking market soon.
That soon changed as the Herald transformed itself into an unoffical arm of Gloria's PR department. Ten years later "Gloria Fever" had infected the Herald newsroom. In 1992 Gloria's name made it into 199 stories!

But, when one types in the key words "Gloria Estefan" along with "Fidel Castro", it's virtually impossible to find any instance of Gloria speaking out against the the Castro government.

That's not to say that Gloria doesn't support causes dear to Cuban exiles.

In January of 2000, the name of Elian Gonzalez was on the minds of most Miami Cubans, including Gloria, who issued this forceful statement at the American Music Awards in support of the little tyke: ``All I do is pray for that boy and his family. Every time I see his little face, I feel he's in a tough spot. . . . I don't think anybody wins in this issue.''

On April 22, 2000, the day Elian was seized from the home of his Miami relatives, she issued this statement: ``Today is a very sad day for the United States and the world; when once again we show our children that conflicts are resolved using guns, violence and terror instead of communication and peaceful negotiation. I hope that as a community we can study this complex situation and learn how to go forward with renewed hope and optimism." That's telling 'em Gloria!

But little more than a month later, on June 3 the Herald reported that Estefan said on NBC's "Today Show" that ``As a mother, a woman and a Cuban American, I guess it's time for Elian to go back - I have a feeling,''

But, as with many of the Herald's online stories, the things that readers say are sometimes, extremely telling.

Seizing perhaps, on Gloria's comment yesterday that, ''The moment has arrived for us, the Cubans who live in freedom, and all those who wish to join, to offer absolute support and encouragement to the ladies and the people of Cuba,'' someone calling himself "abuelo" wrote:
Whoa!!!! after 50 years the EstefanS are doing something for the people in CUBA
Maybe "abuleo" is right.

Or maybe Gloria just wanted to see her name in the paper again.


  1. I disagree with the conclusion that "maybe Gloria just wanted to see her name in the paper again."

    Past interviews with Gloria Estefan indicate that she hates politics, and seems to prefer to stay out of the political arena, which she believes should not mix with her music. On occasion (as you pointed out) she feels compelled to make public political statements and those remarks have been consistent about her opinions about a "free Cuba."

    Instead, Gloria Estefan and her husband have significant political influence out of the spotlight, such as Emilio Estefan's appointments in lower advisory committees for the Bush and Obama administration.

    In addition, with Gloria Estefan's world fame, she can become the public face for any humanitarian cause she wishes. She could also have been a spokesperson for families of American soldiers who died of effects caused by Agent Orange, like her father.

    But, it seems clear from her interviews that she prefers to mainly stay out of the political spotlight. To insinuate that all of a sudden she wanted to see her face on the newspaper doesn't seem to add up.

  2. @Mambi Watch:

    The line about her wanting to see her name in the paper was written partly in jest.

    There are plenty of things that Gloria might have done to further the cause of freedom in Cuba over the past 20 or 30 years.

    Things that might have actually amounted to something. Marching down 8th Street doesn't do anything to help the people of Cuba.

    I know that she's not a political person, but how can any Cuban American say that when their homeland is in the grip of a dictator.

    The timing of this leaves me with a lot of questions about her motives.

    For instance, having known Gloria and covered events involving her, I know that she doesn't do anything that doesn't involve the participation of a lot of press agents.


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