The Miami Herald
October 11, 1999
Round 2: Van Van plans an encore


 Los Van Van, the Cuban band whose performance at the Miami Arena drew
 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, we
 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 same,''
 Perez-Franco said.

 The number of protesters who attended varies greatly. Perez-Franco said he
 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 to the
 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
 available Sunday.

 The thought of seeing Miami go through a similar ordeal again sickens Miami
 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 Commission that
 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 Manager Donald
 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
 on Sunday.

 Despite the fact that police officers in riot attire gave a negative impression, city
 officials and Perez-Franco praised officers for exercising restraint, inside and

 Warshaw, the former chief of police, said the officers' experience in past
 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 crowd with
 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