PRESIDENT OBAMA welcomed the Buena Vista Social Club to the White House on Thursday October 15 and they made history by becoming the first Cuban based group to play there in over half a century.
President Obama and Raul Castro, the President of Cuba, have had a couple of meetings and have held telephone conversations following last December’s historic announcement that they were re-establishing diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Thursday’s celebration in Washington was in honour of Hispanic Heritage Month and marked the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Talking about the group to the audience, President Obama said, “It´s wonderful to have you here. I was explaining to them that when the documentary about the Buena Vista Social Club came out, I was told it was 1998, I bought a CD.”
The group’s set went on for about 20 minutes and the President got up on stage to personally thank each member for visiting the White House.
The significance of the visit becomes clear in light of the recent history involving the band themselves. Just over a decade ago members of the band were denied visas to enter America. The group was not granted permission to attend the Grammys in 1998 where they had won an award.