BY JORDAN LEVIN and ANA ACLE
Los Van Van, the Cuban band whose performance at the Miami Arena
thousands of protesters, will return for an encore in December.
''I don't want to let anyone stop me from presenting bands that
I want to present,'' said
promoter Debbie Ohanian. ``A lot of people who wanted to go last night were afraid, but once
they hear how great it was they'll come.''
Ohanian said she wanted the band to return while it's still ''fresh in people's minds.''
Not that Cuban exiles would forget. Many in the exile community
closely associate the salsa
band with the Fidel Castro regime. The group's name reportedly is derived from a
speech Castro once gave.
``The exile community demonstrated that despite 41 years of struggle,
maintain the same principles as when we started,'' said Juan Perez-Franco,
president of Brigade 2506, the Bay of Pigs veterans group.
The group rented the James L. Knight Center for a viewing of the
movie Libertad in
an attempt to stop the band from playing at the center, the band's original venue.
``If they disgracefully return in December, we will treat them
The number of protesters who attended varies greatly. Perez-Franco
thought there were 10,000, but police told him 7,000. Police wouldn't estimate on
Sunday, but told reporters 4,000 on Saturday night.
According to Ohanian, an estimated 800 people received free tickets
concert and 2,800 paid their way.
After the concert, some protesters threw plastic bottles, rocks
and eggs -- forcing
about 50 Miami police officers to don riot gear and escort concert participants to
the parking lot for protection.
Six people were arrested, Miami Police Lt. Bill Schwartz said:
four for disorderly
conduct, one for battery on a police officer when a crowd rushed and another for
criminal mischief for slashing tires of parked cars.
The battery charge happened when a crowd of protesters rushed
a gate and
punched an officer, Schwartz said. The names of those arrested were not
The thought of seeing Miami go through a similar ordeal again
Commissioner Wifredo ``Willy'' Gort.
``I'd love to see them play in some other place, not in the city
of Miami,'' Gort
``A lot of people don't realize what the Cuban [exiles] are going
through. It's like
an insult to them.'' He likened the event to having a Nazi band play before Miami
Beach's Jewish community.
Gort also said he hopes to introduce a resolution to the City
would force the promoter of a band who draws a massive crowd to pay for all
police and other expenses instead of sending the bill to taxpayers.
Ohanian paid an estimated $31,000 in security, said Miami City
Warshaw, but any extra costs not in the contract will be absorbed by citizens.
Costs of extra police officers who aided when the pelting began were not available
Despite the fact that police officers in riot attire gave a negative
officials and Perez-Franco praised officers for exercising restraint, inside and
Warshaw, the former chief of police, said the officers' experience
demonstrations and ethnic sensitivity training helped ease tensions between the
crowd and the police.
There were only a few trouble-makers on both sides, he said.
``Some of the concertgoers who were not too bright taunted the
obscene gestures and inflamed some of the emotions,'' Warshaw said, ``but I
never felt there was a threat of violent behavior.''
Lupe Cristobal enjoyed Los Van Van and said she'll pay to attend
again if the
band returns, despite yelling and insults from protesters.
``They don't gain anything with yelling,'' Cristobal said. ``If
you like the music, you
go. Neither the country or government matters.''
Copyright 1999 Miami Herald