Miami commission makes 'moral statement' against Cuban artists

Commission passes resolution asking Congress to allow ban on Cuban artists

MIAMI – The crowd at the Studio 60 Nightclub in Miami-Dade County's Allapattah neighborhood loved Afro-Cuban singer Mario "Mayito" Rivera's performance so much they threw dollar bills at him.  

Rivera, 53, and the members of the Los Van Van danced on the cash. It was a full house on the evening of Thursday, May 30, at the Latin nightclub at Northwest 36th Street and Northwest 23rd Avenue.

Miami commissioners want it to be the last time Cuban artists who have the support of the Cuban government can profit from performances in South Florida. 

"It is a mockery what these Cuban artists are doing when they come here," said Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes, who was born in Cuba. 

Reyes and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez introduced a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to enact legislation to allow local governments to prohibit businesses from hiring Cuban artists who do business with the Cuban government. Commissioners voted to pass it on Thursday. 

The commission wants the proposed ban to stay in place "until freedom of expression is restored for all Cubans and not just a few favored artists" -- including Rivera. 

Before Rivera went on tour in Europe, Australia and the United States, he performed during a Jan. 25 Cuban government concert. It was a socialist party campaign event to persuade Cubans to support the new constitution. 

Suarez said the resolution is similar to other "moral statements" the commission has made in the past with other resolutions.  

"We have done it with respect to Israel," Suarez said. "We have done it with respect to Venezuela. We have done it with respect to Nicaragua."


About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.