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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

In Miami, Cuban Music is for Fighting

MIAMI (CN) - Miami's political wars have flared up again, in competing lawsuits about what does, or does not, constitute Latin music. The concert promoter claims the owner of the venue conducted a "scorched earth campaign," which cost the promoter "millions of dollars," after the venue owner objected that the performers would be from communist Cuba - not from Latin America in general.

The companies filed their complaints within 30 minutes of one another, in Miami-Dade County Court.

First past the post was the venue owner, Homestead-Miami Speedway, which wants to cancel the show and wants the promoter barred from using its trademarks in advertising. It claims that if the show goes on, with artists from communist Cuba, "there is a real and present danger of civil disobedience regarding musicians and other performers who are Cuban nationals and that the force majeure provision excuses HMS ... from performing its obligations under the three agreements."

They add: "HMS and ASC have been contacted, informed, and warned that the concert will be protested and picketed. HMS and SAC do not have the ability to police that type of threat to persons and property and the cost of the peace under those circumstances render the agreement financially unmanageable and impossible to attain."

Half an hour later, the concert promoter, Mia Resorts, whose clients include Tiffany & Co., Starbucks and IBM, sued for defamation and breach of contract.

The concert, if it happens, is slated for April 9 at Speedway's racetrack, which hosts NASCAR Championships and other events, in Homestead, south of Miami.

According to the clashing complaint, the parties agreed on Jan. 24 Mia could hold a Latin music concert at the Speedway.

Speedway claims it "chose Mia as the promoter of a music festival scheduled for April 9, 2011 based upon the false representations by Mia as to which individuals would be involved and the type of event that would be undertaken."

But Speedway says it was alarmed to learn later that the concert would feature only Cuban artists. It claims that "Mia represented to [Speedway] personnel on several occasions that the 'Latin' festival would feature Mexican and local artists."

Speedway says its concerns increased when it learned that Mia had delegated promotions to Hugo Cancio and his company Fuego Entertainment, which have a history of attracting political demonstrations due to Miami's hypersensitivity about all things Cuban.

Speedway claims that Mia failed to disclose the involvement of Cancio and Fuego Entertainment, knowing that their involvement would have influenced Speedway's decision to hold the concert.

Neither Cancio nor Fuego are parties to either complaint.

In an interview, Speedway's attorney Alfonso Perez told Courthouse News: "Our clients operate 10 tracks around the country. We just want to be careful about who we license our logo to. We don't have a contract with Fuego Entertainment. We don't know what's going on. All of sudden these people step out of the woodwork and say they're putting on the concert."

Mia did not return phone calls seeking comment.

But Mia said in its complaint: "None of these agreements imply, much less define, 'Latin Music Festival' as an exclusive 'Mexican Music Festival,' or include any restriction precluding the 'Latin Music Festival' from being a Cuban music festival or that the 'Latin Music Festival' could not feature artists or performers from the Latin country of Cuba."

Mia claims that Speedway tried to back out of its agreements eight days after it approved a promotional flyer that called the festival the Fuego Cuban Music Festival.

Mia's complaint never mentions Cancio or Fuego Entertainment's, other than in quotes from Speedway.

"Not satisfied with breaching the agreement, the Speedway carried out its threat to publish its accusations about Mia Resorts to the media by launching a methodical, invidious public campaign to humiliate Mia Resorts," the complaint states.

In addition to a press release stating that Speedway never authorized a Fuego Cuban Music Festival, Mia says that Speedway also told the Telemundo TV chain that Mia had given a "false description" of the concert.

Mia claims that Linda Bell, former mayor of Homestead, "publicly assailed Mia Resorts for purportedly pulling a 'bait and switch.'"

And, Mia says, and El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language version of the Miami Herald, printed a story that said Mia "acted as Mexicans."

Homestead-Miami Speedway and Americrown Service Corp., which provides catering services for Speedway, are represented by Alfonso Perez of Coral Gables. They seek an injunction prohibiting use of the Speedway logo and trademark, and declaratory judgment relieving them of their responsibilities under the agreements.

Mia, represented by Paul Ranis of Ft. Lauderdale, seeks damages, pre-and post-judgment costs, and attorney's fees.

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