MIAMI – Threats from politically powerful, Castro-hating Cubans have forced the organizers of the Latin Grammys — a sexy awards celebration featuring Latin musicians from around the globe — to pull the plug on plans to hold the show in Miami.
"We'll be doing the 2nd annual Latin Grammys from Los Angeles," Latin Grammy CEO C. Michael Greene said.
Cuban exile groups became enraged over the possible appearance of musicians from Cuba on the show, and promised to disrupt the live CBS broadcast by protesting.
"The problem is ... sending certain people chosen by Castro," Cuban exile Emilio Izquierdo said.
Miami's Mayor Joe Carollo agreed that protestors should be allowed to demonstrate near the event.
After the Latin Grammy organization decided to move the show to the West Coast instead, Carollo let loose. He accused Greene of hindering the people's right to protest.
"The real issue, frankly, was that [Greene] wanted to make sure that there would be no cameras picking up anyone protesting or having a different point of view," Carollo said.
Event organizers point to a 1999 Miami concert where Cuban exiles pelted a touring Cuban band. With an expected live worldwide audience of 800 million, they say it is only fair that they strive to furnish their performers and viewers with the best and safest venue possible.
"We've got people coming from all over the world," Greene said. "Having to run that gauntlet is demeaning at best and dangerous at worst."
Maybe the biggest losers in the Latin Grammy mess are South Florida businesses that would have brought in as much as $35 million from the event, as well as worldwide publicity.
"I don't think it's so much the actual money or the revenue as it is the exposure," Jimmy Samuels, a manger at The Shore Club, said.