Grammy chief Michael Greene said in published remarks on Friday he feels “betrayed” by Miami’s civic leaders over the hostile political climate that prompted him to pull the Latin Grammy Awards show out of that city.
In a Los Angeles Times interview, Greene said he also doubts the show will be moved any time soon back to Miami, home to such Latin stars as Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias and Gloria Estefan and the Latin American headquarters for MTV, Sony Music and scores of other record labels.
“There would have to be a seismic shift in the political leadership of the city of Miami… for us to be able to go back,” the president and chief executive of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences told the Times.
Miami leaders had lobbied hard to host the 2nd annual Latin Grammys after the South Florida city was rejected as the venue last year due to Cuban exile politics. When Miami was chosen as the show’s location in April, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas hailed it as a chance to cement Miami’s image as the world’s Latin music capital.
Greene abruptly announced Aug. 20 that he was moving the show back to Los Angeles over concerns that protests by Cuban exiles against artists from the communist-ruled nation could threaten the safety of performers and spectators.
The decision came after Miami city officials agreed to allow anti-Castro protesters closer to the American Airlines Arena than was previously agreed with Grammy organizers. The ceremony is now scheduled for Sept. 11 at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles.
“I do feel betrayed, in that everybody knew what we were trying to do there,” Greene told the Times. “We weren’t there to cram a Cuban national performance in the face of the people of Miami. We were trying to celebrate a coming of age of tolerance.”
According to the Times, Greene denied reports that he won the support of prominent Cuban Americans in Miami by privately promising them that no Cuban-based artists would perform on the show. But he acknowledged he told Miami officials that Cuban acts would only be included on the entertainment roster if there were a “compelling reason” to showcase them.
A spokeswoman for the Grammys told Reuters that as of Friday, none of the seven nominated artists from Cuba were slated to perform on the show.
One of those musicians, jazz pianist Chucho Valdes, told a Cuban weekly online magazine this week that he and other Cuban nominees plan to attend the ceremony in Los Angeles.
“As representatives of Cuban culture, we have to be where we belong, without fear,” he told La Jiribilla in its latest edition. Valdes’ agent reportedly had said Valdes would not attend because he was working on an album.