A teary but smiling Gloria Estefan mounted the stage at the end of a march she spearheaded that drew thousands of demonstrators in Miami's Little Havana to support Cuban dissidents Thursday.
"Thank you Miami," Estefan told the crowd of tens of thousands that packed the street. "We are a people united by our love for freedom. We are here with all our different flags. That is what this great country allows us to do."
Shouting "Libertad! Libertad!" the marchers gathered in support of the Ladies in White, a group of Cuban mothers and wives of 75 dissidents arrested in a 2003 government crackdown there. Last week, as the Ladies in White marched through Havana to mark the anniversary of the arrests, pro-government groups surrounded them and Cuban state security agents put several in choke holds.
At Thursday's Miami demonstration, many brought children and grandparents.
Estefan, a Cuban-born, Grammy award winning singer and songwriter, held up a photo of the Ladies in White and two gladiola stems, the same flowers the Cuban dissidents carry when marching. Beside her were other singers, including Pit Bull, Willy Chirino, Natalia Jimenez and Luis Fonsi.
A small plane flew overhead towing a banner that read, in Spanish, "Freedom for the Political Prisoners."
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