Cuban exile groups - both pro and anti-Castro - are threatening to spoil the ceremony in LA...

Organisers of next week’s LATIN GRAMMY AWARDS ceremony in LOS ANGELES have insisted things will go ahead as planned despite renewed threats of protests and pickets by Cuban exile groups.

The ceremony was moved from its original venue in Miami after fears that it would be overshadowed by the exiles – some of whom are pro-Fidel Castro and some of whom are against.

Anger at Cuban artists attending the show, set for September 11 at The Forum, appears to be just as strong amongst the hard-line anti-Communist Cuban American groups in Los Angeles as in Miami.

Big name acts such as Christina Aguilera and Ricky Martin are due to attend.

Juan Vila, spokesman for national Cuban American organisation Junta Patriotica Cubana said: “We sincerely regret the Latin Grammy awards ceremony has become an instrument for the benefit of the Castro communist regime in Cuba.”

A letter to Latin Grammy organisers groups said profits from sales of records by pro-Castro sympathisers continued the “slavery” of the Cuban people. It is thought hardline pro-Castro sympathisers will also turn up, sparking fears of a confrontation between the two groups.

Enrique Fernandez, Senior Vice President of the Latin Recording Academy, issued a statement yesterday (September 6) in a bid to allay fears of a flare-up.

“The Latin Recording Academy is well aware of the protests that are scheduled to take place near The Forum on September 11,” he said. “Academy members attended both press conferences today, and I personally met with protest organisers who represent different Cuban exile groups. I explained to them that we are here to celebrate excellence in Latin music, regardless of who produces it or where it’s produced.

“They emphasised that their protest was not against the Academy or the Latin Grammys, but against the participation of Cuban artists. We at the Latin Recording Academy support everyone’s right to express their views.

“We and the Inglewood and Los Angeles Police Departments are aware that both groups are planning civil protests, and we are confident about the safety of our guests.”