With just three weeks remaining until show time, the Recording Academy has moved the Latin Grammy Awards from Miami to Los Angeles due to protests planned by Cuban exile groups against artists from the communist country.
The last-minute decision came Monday afternoon (August 20), after a coalition of more than a 100 Cuban-American groups compromised with Miami city officials and promised to keep their demonstrations within a designated area near the American Airlines Arena. But the agreed-upon location was too close for the academy.
“Due to serious concerns for the safety and dignity of our 10,000 guests, nominees, performers and sponsors from across the globe and the threat of disruption during the telecast itself, the Latin Academy … has been forced to make a very difficult and unfortunate decision,” read a statement issued by Recording Academy CEO Michael Greene.
The Latin Grammys will be held September 11 at the Forum in Inglewood, California, near Los Angeles.
The academy claims it had reached an agreement with the city of Miami establishing security perimeters around the arena, but said that city officials last week changed that zone. “Further, the academy was made aware that protestors had secured tickets to the show and were organizing a disruption to the live telecast itself,” Greene said in his statement.
Academy officials considered moving the event to Broward County, north of Miami, but were told by the Florida Highway Patrol and local sheriff’s department that they could not guarantee attendees’ safety, Greene said.
City officials in Miami could not be reached at press time.
The exile groups planned to demonstrate against artists living in Cuba under the regime of Fidel Castro and threatened to sue the city for violating their First Amendment rights if they were not permitted to do so in the immediate vicinity of the arena. Cuban artists among the nominees include Isaac Delgado and Omara Portuondo.
“The academy understands that some people in Miami hold strong and heartfelt views about the inclusion of Cuban national nominees resulting from the Latin Grammy voting process,” Greene’s statement read. “And while we support everyone’s right to express individual views, our mission is to celebrate excellence in all recorded Latin music, regardless of who produces it.”
Exile issues in South Florida also led academy officials to choose Los Angeles over Miami for the inaugural Latin Grammys last year.
Colombian rocker Juanes tops the list of Latin Grammy nominees with seven nods, including Album of the Year (Fijate Bien), Record of the Year and Best New Artist. Spanish pop singer Alejandro Sanz has five nominations, while Los Aterciopelados, Gilberto Gil, Fito Páez, Gustavo Santaolalla and Caetano Veloso each have three.
Christina Aguilera and Luis Miguel are among a group of artists with two nods (see “Aguilera, Juanes Nab Latin Grammy Nominations” ).
For more Grammy news, check out the MTV News Grammy Archive .