CubaBrief: Cuban Protest Song ‘Patria Y Vida’ wins two Latin Grammys’ and world got to hear about Cuba’s political prisoners, and threats against artists

The 2021 Latin Grammys were dominated by the Cuban protest song “Patria Y Vida” with a live performance and the anthem winning two Grammys for ‘Best Urban Song‘ and ‘Song of the Year’. Over the course of the evening the audience learned about Maykel Castillo (Osorbo) who is a contributing artist of the Grammy winning song, and also now a prisoner of conscience in a Cuban jail, heard calls from the artists for the freedom of political prisoners, and for a free Cuba. This did not come without a price.

The New York Times reported on the song and the price paid by some of the Cuban artists. ” While most of the artists who collaborated on the song were well known internationally before the track’s release and were also living outside of Cuba, Maykel Osorbo and El Funky still lived on the island: Both were arrested earlier this year, and Osorbo remains in jail. Romero, who lives in Miami, said that he cannot return to the island for fear of arrest.” The paper of record left out Spanish artist, and Yotuel’s wife, Beatriz Luengo describing what she had experienced in working on Patria y Vida: “I cry because you cannot imagine what I have suffered as a woman composer. I have had all sorts of threats. They took down my social networks, they took our video off Youtube. The song annoyed some very much, but it only talks about human rights. I have had personal threats with my recently born child.”

CBS News reported on November 19, 2021 how some of the Cuban artists living abroad feel about the consequences of expressing themselves freely in their music.

Gente De Zona, who is made up of musicians Alexander Delgado and Randy Malcom, talked to “CBS Mornings” in July about the song and risks of speaking out. “We’re talking about the lives of an entire country,” Delgado said. “They’re killing our people. So, if I have to, or we have to die, for our people, we’d do it. We have to keep denouncing it.” … “We knew we’d never be able to step foot on our land again, that we’d never be able to see our families again,” Malcom added. “But, Cuba is my family. My family is more than 12 million Cubans who are still on the island suffering.” 

This is a far cry from 20 years ago. The Latin Grammys have changed, and so have many Cuban artists. The first Latin Grammys were held in 2000 in Los Angeles. The second Latin Grammys had been planned to be held in Miami, Florida but were moved to Los Angeles, California out of fear that protests by Cuban Exiles would disrupt the event.

Lorenzo Enrique Copello, Bárbaro Leodán Sevilla and Jorge Luis Martínez

Two years later in the aftermath of the Black Cuban Spring, and the execution on April 11, 2003 by firing squad of Lorenzo Enrique Copello, Bárbaro Leodán Sevilla and Jorge Luis Martínez, three young black men, for trying to flee Cuba led to an underscoring of the intersection between the arts and politics in Cuba. The Castro regime forced Cuban artists, some who had been nominated by the Latin Grammys to sign a letter defending the execution of the young men on April 19, 2003. This may have played a role in the non-invitation of Cuban nominees to attend the Latin Grammys in Miami in 2003.

Five years later in the Spanish newspaper, El Periódico (2008), Cuban singer Pablo Milanés said that he refused “to sign a letter of support for the executions decreed in April 2003 and the penalties of long prison sentences for the 75 dissidents.” To the question of whether it was a matter of “pure opportunism” on the part of those artists and intellectuals who signed the letter, Milanés responded, “Yes, and pure cowardice.”

Now, in 2021, we are seeing Cuban artists risking all for their art, and speaking truth to power, and the Latin Grammys are no longer a stage for artists defending the execution of young black men, but calling for their freedom. This is a welcome change.

Rolling Stone, November 19, 2021

The 2021 Latin Grammys Were All About Protest Song ‘Patria Y Vida’

Yotuel, Descemer Bueno, El Funky, and Gente de Zona perform what became the Latin Grammys’ Song Of The Year

By Kiko Martinez

Dressed all in white and surrounded by candles, Yotuel, Descemer Bueno, El Funky, and Gente de Zona delivered a powerful performance of their song “Patria Y Vida” at the Latin Grammys. The collaboration became a rallying cry during protests in Cuba during the summer. It also features Maykel Osorbo, a hip-hop artist who has been jailed by the Cuban government for months.

The performers were introduced by Gloria Estefan, who was born in Havana. Each artist fired off lyrics that are intense with pain, passion, anger, and hopefulness. Some people in the audience held Cuban flags as a sign of support. 

“Patria Y Vida” was one of the big stories from the Latin Grammys this year: It won Best Urban Song and Song of the Year. It’s the first award for El Funky and Maykel Osorbo. In 2016, Gente de Zona won a Latin Grammy for Best Tropical Fusion Album for Visualizate. In 2003, Yotuel won a Latin Grammy for Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album for Emigrante. Last summer, he also released the song “Juntos somos más” alongside Lara Álvarez and Beatriz Luengo.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-latin/patria-y-vida-performance-2021-latin-grammys-1260022/


The Latin Recording Academy, November 18, 2021

Photo: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for The Latin Recording Academy

News

Yotuel, Gente De Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo & El Funky Win Best Urban Song For “Patria Y Vida” | 2021 Latin GRAMMYs Awards

Yotuel, Gente De Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo & El Funky take home the Latin GRAMMY for Best Urban Song at the 2021 Latin GRAMMYs Awards.

Morgan Enos Latin GRAMMYs Nov 18, 2021 – 2:29 pm

Yotuel, Gente De Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo & El Funky won the Latin GRAMMY for Best Urban Song (“Patria Y Vida”) at the 2021 Latin GRAMMYs Awards. They bested fellow nominees Farina (“A Fuego”), Tainy & J Balvin (“Agua”), Bad Bunny Jhay Cortez (“Dakiti”), and Myke TowersJay Wheeler & DJ Nelson (“La Curiosidad”).

Stay tuned to GRAMMY.com for updates from the 2021 Latin GRAMMYs Awards.

https://www.grammy.com/latin-grammys/news/best-urban-song-2021-latin-grammys-awards-yotuel-gente-de-zona-descemer-bueno-win

Billboard, November 18, 2021

Latin

Yotuel, Gente De Zona & More Perform ‘Patria y Vida’ at 2021 Latin Grammys

After winning best urban song before the telecast, “Patria y Vida” also won one of the biggest awards of the night: song of the year.

By Thania Garcia

Patria y Vida Basilio Silva

YotuelGente De ZonaDescemer Bueno and El Funky brought Cuba to the Latin Grammy stage with their poignant anthem “Patria y Vida.”

Dressed in all white, the group took turns running through each verse with conviction, howling their famous “Patria y Vida” slogan as a Cuban flag waved in the audience. The performance ended with a fiery chant that quickly left the stage and emerged among the crowd: “¡Viva Cuba Libre!”

After winning best urban song at the Latin Grammy premiere ceremony earlier in the day, “Patria y Vida” also won one of the biggest awards of the night: song of the year. With his Latin Grammy in hand, Yotuel dedicated the win to his mother and all Latina mothers who dream of a better future for their children.

Hosted by Ana Brenda Contreras, Carlos Rivera, and Roselyn Sánchez, the 22nd annual Latin Grammys Awards includes a star-studded lineup of both performers and presenters such as C. Tangana, Maná, Los Dos Carnales, Ozuna, Gloria Trevi, and Myke Towers, among others, taking the stage.

With the theme “rediscovering life through music,” the three-hour show will “invite audiences to rediscover what’s important in life using music as a storyline,” according to a statement from the Latin Recording Academy.

https://www.billboard.com/music/latin/yotuel-gente-de-zona-patria-y-vida-2021-latin-grammys-1234999908/

The New York Times, November 18, 2021

‘Patria y Vida’: How a Cuban rap song became a protest anthem.

By Oscar Lopez

MEXICO CITY — As thousands marched across Cuba last July in an astonishing protest against the Communist regime, many shouted and sang a common refrain: “Patria y vida!” or “Homeland and life!”

The phrase comes from a rap song of the same name, which has become an anthem for a burgeoning movement of young people taking to the internet and to the streets, demanding an end to political oppression and economic misery.

The song, written by Yotuel Romero, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo, Eliecer “el Funky” Márquez Duany and the reggaeton pair Gente de Zona, is nominated for two Latin Grammys, including song of the year, and will be performed on the show Thursday night.

“These are the first Grammy Awards for the people of Cuba, the first Grammys for freedom,” Romero said in a phone interview from Miami. “These are the first Grammys where it’s not Yotuel nor Gente Zona that are nominated, it’s patria y vidait’s Cuba.”

The song is a rare instance of Cuban artists directly taking on the regime: The title is a twist on one of the most iconic slogans of the Cuban revolution, patria o muerte(homeland or death), a phrase that Fidel Castro often used to end his speeches.

“It was the antithesis of homeland or death — homeland and life,” Romero said. “I knew that phrase was going to bring a lot of controversy.”

And generate controversy it did.

After it was released in February, the song was heavily criticized by government figures like President Miguel Díaz-Canel and former culture minister Abel Prieto, who called the track a “musical pamphlet.” and wrote, “There’s nothing more sad than a chorus of annexationists attacking their homeland” on Twitter.

But the official criticism did little to stem the song’s popularity. After decades of isolation, internet use became widespread in Cuba in 2018 — many young Cubans are now highly active on social media, where the anthem spread like wildfire. The accompanying video has been viewed more than 9 million times on YouTube.

The song’s release came just a few months after hundreds of artists, intellectuals and others demonstrated outside the Ministry of Culture in Havana to protest a slew of recent arrests, including that of the rapper Denis Solís.

“That protest transformed the narrative of the opposition in Cuba,” said Rafael Escalona, the director of the Cuban music magazine AM:PM. “There was fertile ground for someone to reap the fruits and create a protest anthem.”

On July 11, “Patria y Vida” was transformed into a rallying cry, when Cuba witnessed its largest protests in decades, with Cubans protesting over power outages, food shortages and a lack of medicines.

“This is my way of telling you, my people are crying out and I feel their voice,” the song says. “No more lies, my people ask for freedom. No more doctrines, let’s not sing of homeland or death but homeland and life.”

Hundreds of people were jailed after the July demonstrations, and at least 40 more were detained on Monday as the regime moved to stifle another planned march.

The risks extended to the songwriters too.

While most of the artists who collaborated on the song were well known internationally before the track’s release and were also living outside of Cuba, Maykel Osorbo and El Funky still lived on the island: Both were arrested earlier this year, and Osorbo remains in jail. Romero, who lives in Miami, said that he cannot return to the island for fear of arrest.

But despite the crackdown, Romero said he is confident that the emerging movement fomented by Cuba’s youth and given a soundtrack by “Patria y Vida” is only just getting started.

“This is no longer a movement, it’s generation. It’s the generation patria y vida,” he said. “The generation patria y vida has come to bury the generation patria o muerte.”

Carlos Melián Moreno contributed reporting from Santiago, Cuba.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/18/arts/music/patria-y-vida-cuba-protest-song.html


From the archives

Translating Cuba, April 19, 2020

When The Intellectuals Supported “The Terror Of Castrismo.” Seventeen Years After The “Message From Havana.”

Yolanda Huerga (Radio Televisión Martí), April, 19, 2020 — It’s been 17 years since that April 19 when a group of Cuban artists and writers signed a letter supporting the imprisonment of 75 dissidents, the execution of three young men and life sentences for the other four, after they hijacked a boat with the intention of going to the United States.

The letter disclosed how “Message from Havana for friends who are far away” responded to the other document signed by dozens of intellectuals around the world, including traditional friends of the Revolution, in which they condemned the repression for crimes of opinion in Cuba and challenged the legality of “revolutionary justice.”

Radio Television Martí interviewed people about the gloomy atmosphere during those days of the Black Spring and the execution of the three boys who had been in prison only 10 days.

“The year 2003 was a definitive year, not only for policy but also for Cuban culture and society. It was the year of that shameful repressive act known as the Black Spring, which would initiate the most important social resistance movements of the opposition and the Ladies in White, and it was the year when three young men, who tried to flee Cuba in a boat, were deceived by being promised a fair trial and, finally, in an absolutely illegal and inhuman procedure, were executed,” noted Amir Valle, from Berlin, Germany.

Already in 1961, Fidel Castro had summed up his cultural policy in one sentence: “Inside the Revolution, everything. Outside the Revolution, nothing.” There were no alternatives. Creative people had to bend to that mandate because their survival depended on it.

“Everybody I knew, from all strata of Cuban culture, everybody, thought that this was an aberration. They talked about it in small groups but never raised their voices, and many accepted this afront—the letter—in which personalities like Alicia Alonso, Silvio Rodríguez, Miguel Barnet, among others, not only defended the executions but also had the indecency to try to get thinkers from other countries to add themselves to this shameful support,” said Valle, the author of Los Denudos de Dios [The Naked of God].

The initial letter, signed by 27 noted figures of national culture and published in the official newspaper Granma, was followed by a call to all the members of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), the Hermanos Saiz Association, cultural institutions and universities throughout the country to follow the decision taken by Fidel Castro.

In the following weeks, Granma regularly published a list of those who added their signatures throughout the country.

In this respect, the writer and activist, Ángel Santiesteban said from the Cuban capital: “When the convocation opened, as my apartment was very close to the headquarters of UNEAC, many people came by my house to say hello, and I can say that even the most ardent defenders of the Regime confessed to me at that time that they didn’t agree with the imprisonment of the 75, and, above all, they were outraged at the execution of those boys.”

The Cuban Government stated that there was “budding aggression” and that the U.S. intended to invade Cuba.

“The majority justified signing the ‘Message’ by saying they didn’t agree with the invasion,” lamented Santiesteban, who already in 1995 had received the UNEAC prize for his book of short stories, Sueño de un día de verano [Dream of a Summer Day].”

The essayist, Carlos Aguilera, located in the German city of Frankfurt, emphasized that “this letter was a disgrace. On one side, the despotic State was imprisoning, assassinating, repressing. And on the other, a group of sycophants was encouraging all the terror of Castro’s policy. When, one day, they can ask questions and bring the guilty to justice, they will have to ask the Cuban intellectual claque why they not only signed the proclamation but also contributed to the crime and favored the dismantling of all critical positions, all spaces of reflection and discrepancy.”

However, more than the strong declarations by figures like Günter Grass, Mario Vargas Llosa and Jorge Edwards, it had a much bigger impact on national intellectuals, artists and writers. Some, openly on the left, like Pedro Almodóvar, Joan Manuel Serrat, Fernando Trueba, Joaquín Sabina, Caetano Veloso, José Saramago and Eduardo Galeano, harshly criticized the Regime. Even Noam Chomsky, in 2008, requested freedom for those detained in the Black Spring.

“Suddenly there was an apparent unity among colleagues of the Left and the Right on the world level,” said Valle. “It was a small seed that was sowed in the heads of many of us and that flourished some years later in the intellectual rebellion known as ‘Pavongate, or the Little War of Emails in 2007’. For this reason I think that 2003 marks a before and after, because not only did the events occur and not only was society moved but it also made very profound changes in the cultural and social policy in Cuba,” he added.

“No one should be in favor of the death penalty; human life is sacred in my opinion,” said the writer Gabriel Barrenechea, a native of Encrucijada, Villa Clara. “And it seems to me totally incongruent that a writer or an artist would support trials against freedom of expression. To deny this is to deny our essence as creators.”

Through the blog, Segunda Cita, Radio Televisión Martí contacted Silvio Rodríguez, and asked: “In April 2003, you signed the ‘Message from Havana for friends who are far away.’ Seventeen years later, do you continue supporting the executions?”

“I never supported those executions,” answered the singer. “I’m sure that none of the signers of that letter did. We signed the letter to close ranks with Cuba’s right to be sovereign. It was 2003, and when Bush launched an attack against Iraq, Colin Powell, inspired by the worst of Florida, said: ‘First Iraq and then Cuba’. Later he had to say it was a joke. I never quit defending my country from bullies and their friends,” said Silvio Rodríguez.

In an interview given to the Spanish newspaper, El Periódico, in 2008, the trova singer Pablo Milanés said that, unlike others, he refused “to sign a letter of support for the executions decreed in April 2003 and the penalties of long prison sentences for the 75 dissidents.” To the question of whether it was a matter of “pure opportunism” on the part of those intellectuals who signed the letter, Milanés responded, “Yes, and pure cowardice.”

Translated by Regina Anavy

https://translatingcuba.com/when-the-intellectuals-supported-the-terror-of-castrismo-seventeen-years-after-the-message-from-havana/

Orlando Sentinel, September 1, 2003

News

LATIN GRAMMY NOMINEES FORCED TO WATCH FROM SIDELINES

By Vanessa Bauza and Sentinel Columnist

Orlando Sentinel

September 01, 2003

MATANZAS, Cuba — From his doorstep, famed rumba performer Diosdado Ramos can see the shimmering waters of Matanzas Bay a few blocks down his narrow street.

It’s a straight shot to Miami. But it seems this bay view is as close as the Latin Grammy nominee is going to get to the Magic City’s gala ceremony Wednesday.

Ramos and several other Cuban nominees last week said they had yet to receive the required letters of invitation from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which organizes the event, much less their approved visas to attend the fourth annual Latin Grammys.

The only way most Cuban musicians will receive a golden statuette this year is via overnight mail.

“It looks like it will be impossible for us to go,” said Ramos, director of the legendary rumba ensemble, Los Munequitos de Matanzas.

“If others nominated for a Grammy can go, why can’t Cuban musicians have the same right?”

Controversy has swirled around the Cuban musicians for weeks, with anti-Castro exile groups planning protests and others calling for counterprotests to show their support. While the musicians expected the demonstrations and maybe even some boycotts, they did not expect the very organization that nominated them to impede their ability to attend.

In addition to the Munequitos, Cuba’s nominees include acclaimed jazz pianist Jesus “Chucho” Valdes, the flashy salsa band Los Van Van, soneros Ibrahim Ferrer and Eliades Ochoa of Buena Vista Social Club fame and rappers Los Orishas. After inquiring about the letters of invitation, a standard prerequisite for Cubans’ visa requests, Grammy-winning producer Nat Chediak was told they had gone out.

“I have asked the academy president and director, Gabriel Abaroa, about this very same subject, and he has assured me that those letters have been sent,” said Chediak, a trustee of the Latin Recording Academy. But in Cuba, musicians and producers interviewed said they did not receive them. Even in the best-case scenario, if the letters arrived this past weekend, the Cubans’ chances of attending the ceremony are slim.

“It’s very difficult from here to evaluate exactly what happened,” said Francisco Formell, brother of Los Van Van leader Juan Formell and producer of their Grammy-nominated album, El Malecon de La Habana. “Evidently there have been opinions that politicized this. My brother never received his invitation.”

Francisco Formell said he e-mailed event organizers several weeks ago in an attempt to secure a letter of invitation. He received cordial responses and a faxed form letter addressed “Dear Nominee,” which he said was not valid for a formal application.

Under new U.S. antiterrorism measures, their applications are rigorously scrutinized. What used to take a few weeks has now stretched into a monthslong approval process. But some LARAS members were puzzled that the academy apparently did not take steps to facilitate the Cuban musicians’ visas.

“My impression is there’s no one reason why none of the Cuban artists are making it,” said Rachel Faro, a New York-based producer who has worked with Los Van Van and other musicians on the island. “It’s a combination of the length of time it takes and the kind of general atmosphere of hesitance by the academy.”

In Cuba, most chalked it up to only-in-Miami political maneuverings.

“The event is used in a political game,” said Jorge Gonzalez, a spokesman at the government-run National Union of Cuban Artists and Writers. “In Miami, it’s totally politicized; you have factions trying to scratch out their own petty thing.”

To Ramos and the other Munequitos, the visa controversy is a discouraging sign that Miami is not yet ready to separate art from politics, even though a number of Cuban bands have performed in the area in recent years.

Founded in 1952, the Munequitos are one of Cuba’s oldest rumba groups. Last year, they packed the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach, giving audiences a taste of their earthy rumba’s timeless, layered percussion while outside a few protesters called them “Castro’s counterintelligence.”

“Of course that bothers us,” Ramos said from his home 60 miles east of Havana. “This is our art.”

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-2003-09-01-0309010016-story.html


Granma, April 19, 2003

Message from Havana to friends who are far away

In recent days, we have been surprised and hurt to see, at the foot of slanderous declarations against Cuba, the signatures of well-known members of the anti-Cuban propaganda machine mixed with the names of some beloved friends. At the same time, there have been statements issued by others, no less beloved to Cuba and the Cuban people, that we believe to be the consequence of distance, disinformation, and the trauma of failed socialist experiments.

Unfortunately, and although this was not the intention of these friends, these texts are being used in the campaign aimed at isolating us and paving the way for United States military aggression against Cuba.

Our small country is more threatened today than ever by the superpower now seeking to impose a fascist dictatorship on a global scale. To defend itself, Cuba has been forced to adopt forceful measures that it naturally did not want to adopt. Cuba cannot be judged on the basis of these measures if they are taken out of context.

It is highly significant that the only demonstration held anywhere in the world to support the recent genocide took place in Miami, under the slogan, “Iraq now, Cuba later”. Added to this are the explicit threats made by members of the fascist government leadership in the United States.

These are times of new trials for the Cuban Revolution and for all of humanity, and it is not enough to fight aggression when it is imminent or already underway.

Today, April 19, 2003, 42 years after the defeat of the mercenary invasion at the Bay of Pigs, we are not addressing those who have turned the issue of Cuba into a business or an obsession, but rather to friends who may have been led astray in good faith, and who have offered us their solidarity on so many occasions.

Alicia Alonso

Miguel Barnet

Leo Brouwer

Octavio Cortázar

Abelardo Estorino

Roberto Fabelo

Pablo Armando Fernández

Roberto Fernández Retamar

Julio García Espinosa

Fina García Marruz

Harold Gramatges

Alfredo Guevara

Eusebio Leal

José Loyola

Carlos Martí

Nancy Morejón

Senel Paz

Amaury Pérez

Graziella Pogolotti

César Portillo de la Luz

Omara Portuondo

Raquel Revuelta

Silvio Rodríguez

Humberto Solás

Marta Valdés

Chucho Valdés

Cintio Vitier

https://www.granma.cu/granmad/2003/04/20/cultura/articulo05.html

Billboard, September 7, 2001

Music News

Latin Grammys May Face Picketers

  • Billboard Staff

  • 9/7/2001

The Latin Grammy Awards, yanked from Miami by organizers who feared protests by Cuban exiles, may still face picketers at the ceremony Tuesday (Sept. 11) near Los Angeles. Yesterday (Sept. 6), groups for and against Cuban artists performing at the awards promised to hold their own demonstrations outside Inglewood, Calif.’s Great Western Forum, where the ceremony will be held.

The Junta Patriotica Cubana, an anti-Castro group in Southern California, hopes to resurrect the cause of anti-Castro demonstrators on the West Coast with about 400 people. “We’re not against the Cuban artists who come over here to participate,” spokesperson Juan Vila said. “We’re against the chance that these people might make some revenue here and have to hand it to Castro, which would make Castro stronger.”

About 60 anti-Castro groups had planned to protest the Latin Grammys in Miami, saying the nomination of Cuban musicians and artists represented an endorsement of the island’s communist leadership. Cuban nominees include Francisco Cespedes, Chucho Valdes, Isaac Delgado, Celina Gonzalez y Reutilio, and Omara Portuondo.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Coalition in Solidarity with Cuba hopes to assemble about 100 people outside the ceremony to welcome Cuban artists. “No artist should be excluded from attending or performing at the Latin Grammys for political reasons, nor should they exclude themselves,” spokesperson Jon Hillson said.

Latin Grammy officials said they were “well aware of the protests” and “are confident about the safety of our guests.”

“I personally met with protest organizers who represent different Cuban exile groups,” said Enrique Fernandez, executive director of the Latin Recording Academy. “I explained to them that we are here to celebrate excellence in Latin music, regardless of who produces it or where it’s produced.”

The inaugural Latin Grammys ceremony was held in Los Angeles last year after Miami rejected it, citing an ordinance barring Miami-Dade county from doing business with those who have dealings with Cuba. That ordinance was later overturned.

In April, after much debate and compromise, the Recording Academy and city officials reached a pact to hold the ceremonies in Miami. But three weeks before the ceremony, Latin Grammy officials decided to shift the event to Los Angeles because they feared anti-Castro demonstrators would disrupt the show and threaten guests.

Miami officials had also enraged the show’s organizers by altering the security perimeter around the show that both sides had approved months earlier, allowing the demonstrations within a half-block of the entrance.

Although Inglewood law enforcement had little time to prepare, police say they have already organized a public safety plan to prevent disruptions outside the show.

There are about 38,600 Cuban-Americans in Los Angeles County. Nearly 1 million live in Florida — mostly around Miami.

https://www.billboard.com/music/music-news/latin-grammys-may-face-picketers-78450/amp/

CNN, August 21, 2001

Protests doom Latin Grammys in Miami

August 21, 2001

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.

http://www.cnn.com/2001/SHOWBIZ/News/08/21/latin.grammys/index.html