The city of Miami, known as the Latin Capital of the world, has lost the opportunity to host the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards next month. The event will be held in Los Angeles instead.
Michael Greene, president and chief executive of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and the Latin Recording Academy, made the announcement Monday, after Miami officials changed approved safety zones around the venue. Organizers feared that Cuban-American protesters would threaten the safety of the guests present at the ceremony.
“Our obligations are to ensure the safety of the guests, artists, and sponsors who will attend the event, as well as to maintain the production integrity of the live Latin Grammy telecast,” Greene said.
Greene added that nearly 100 anti-Fidel Castro exile groups planned to protest against Cuban musicians and artists who would have attended the Latin Grammy Awards at the American Airlines Arena on Sept. 11. Protesters also planned to infiltrate to the show, Greene said in the statement.
“The Academy was made aware that protesters had secured tickets to the show and were organizing a disruption to the live telecast itself,” Greene said in the statement.
Miami city officials agreed on Sunday to let protesters demonstrate in front of the Freedom Tower, a former immigration-processing center located three blocks away from the arena, Reuters reported.
Greene added that officials also tried to move the ceremony to the National Car Rental Center in Broward County, but on Monday the Florida Highway Patrol and the Broward County Sheriff’s Department said they could not guarantee guests’ safety.
“The safety issues and reliability of delivering a live international telecast were the determining factors,” Greene said.
But Miami officials seem to think differently.
“This is not about safety,” Luigi Crespo, press secretary for Miami mayor Joe Carollo told Hollywood.com Tuesday. “That was guaranteed from day one.”
“This is about the constitution of the city of Miami, about offering a place for protesters to send their message across peacefully,” he said.
Miami City Commissioner Thomas Regalado told The Associated Press that the event had been handled very badly from the beginning. “Whoever gave Mr. Greene guarantees should have known better that this would have happened. We should have discussed this from the beginning and not at the last minute,” he said.
Miami will lose approximately $35 million in revenue that the Latin Grammys would bring into the city.
“Of course we lose money,” Crespo said. “But what is the price of freedom and amendment rights?”
Cuban American National Foundation leader, Jorge Mas Santos, told AP he didn’t agree with the decision to move the awards show since it would have been “the perfect opportunity to talk about lack of freedom of expression in Cuba.”
“It’s a difficult subject to discuss, but Greene imposed this event on Miami without thinking of the consequences and the protests it would create,” Crespo said.
None of the artists have commented on the move to Los Angeles, but Crespo believes Emilio Estefan, who often serves as an ambassador for Latin music should probably say something about the people of Miami.
“Of course [the move] will bring a negative image for Miami,” Crespo said. “But it will make the Cuban community stronger, showing them that Miami is one and we have to respect our rights.”
The award ceremony will now be held at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles and will be broadcast live on CBS, Tuesday, Sept. 11.