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Protests doom Latin Grammys in Miami

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- The Latin Grammys are moving from Miami to Los Angeles because of fears that protests by anti-Castro Cuban exiles could disrupt the event, organizers said Monday.

"Our obligations are to ensure the safety of the guests, artists, sponsors and media who will attend the event, as well as to maintain the production integrity of the live Latin Grammy telecast," said Michael Greene, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, which puts on the Latin Grammys, in a statement.

Some Cuban exile groups objected to holding the event in Miami because several Cuban musical groups are nominated for awards and scheduled to attend, violating a long-standing boycott of performances by groups from Cuba in South Florida.

Latin Grammy organizers decided to move the event after local officials, under pressure from exile groups and the American Civil Liberties Union, agreed to allow protests near the AmericanAirlines Arena, where the show was to be held next month.

Greene said more than 100 Cuban-American groups would be "allowed to demonstrate in a high-traffic area for Grammy activities, potentially putting our guests at serious risk." He also alleged that protesters had secured tickets to the show and were planning to disrupt the live telecast on CBS.

"The academy understands that some people in Miami hold strong and heartfelt views about the including of Cuban national nominees," he said. "While we support everyone's right to express individual views, our mission is to celebrate excellence in all recorded Latin music."

Miami was selected to hold the Latin Grammys after a Miami-Dade County ordinance limiting performances by Cuban nationals was struck down. Ironically, the ACLU, which represented Cuban exile groups who pushed city officials to let them demonstrate closer to the arena, helped challenge that ordinance.

"The withdrawal of the Latin Grammys from Miami is a display of arrogance and reflects a refusal to compromise," said Randall C. Marshall, legal director for the ACLU of Florida, in a statement. "The Latin Grammys were unwilling to make minor accommodations to acknowledge the First Amendment rights of the people of Miami."

The controversy of the Latin Grammys had caused a split in the local Cuban community. While some groups vigorously objected, Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and Jorge Mas Santos, head of the Cuban American National Foundation, had worked to bring the event to Miami.

The Latin Grammys will now be held at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles on September 11.


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