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Friday, 31 August, 2001, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Florida cancels Cuban gigs
Cubanismo: Virtuoso Cuban dance music
Concerts by Cuban musicians in Florida have been cancelled after Cuban exile groups threatened to protest.

Venues around the state pulled the gigs after receiving threats of demonstrations in letters, e-mails and phone calls.

The cancellations follow the decision to relocate the 11 September Latin Grammy Awards ceremony from Miami to Los Angeles because of potential protests by anti-Castro groups.

We planned a concert, not a political issue - but it became a political issue

John Stoll, concert organiser
A concert scheduled for March 2002 by Cubanismo! in Melbourne, 200 miles north of Miami, is one of those to be called off.

Organisers said they received threats from Cuban exile groups demanding the dance band's concert be scrapped.

And in West Palm Beach, 65 miles north of Miami, a concert by the popular Cuban jazz band Irakere has been pulled.

John Stoll, owner of the Carefree Theater, said local protesters planned to gather outside the theatre along with exile groups bused in from Miami.

"I have no reason to expose my patrons and my employees to a crowd of people marching up and down the street protesting," said Mr Stoll.

"We planned a concert, not a political issue. But it became a political issue."

The cancellations of the concerts are seen a strong victory for the Cuban exile groups who claim Cuban musicians are supporters of Fidel Castro.

Los Van Van
Los Van Van performed in Havana last weekend
Demonstrator Fernando Dominicis said: "The money they make goes directly to the government of Fidel Castro.

"We don't want to provide the government of Cuba with money to oppress the country."

In 1999 Cuban artists Los Van Van defied protest threats to play a gig in Miami.

Riot police were drafted in to escort concert-goers to the venue as protestors pelted them with eggs and bottles.

The Latin Grammys were switched after organisers learned around 100 groups had been given permission to demonstrate outside the venue at the inclusion of the likes of Chucho Valdez and Francisco Cespedes on the bill.

See also:

27 Mar 01 | Arts
Latin sensations rock US
19 Feb 01 | Americas
Manics play to Castro
01 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Postponed MacColl series airs
09 Dec 00 | Americas
Castro the 'Lennonist'
18 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Estefan slams 'terrorist' Castro
28 Aug 01 | Music
Santana enters Hall of Fame
18 Jul 01 | Music
Juanes tops Latin Grammys list
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