Calle Ocho Walk of Fame

Calle Ocho Walk of Fame

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Calle Ocho Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is known worldwide and is a major tourist attraction. Javier Soto wanted Miami to have a similar Walk of Fame in which Latin stars would be recognized. His dream came true on March 2, 1989, when Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine received the first star on the Latin Star Walk.

However, this did not happen overnight. Forming a company, developing the idea, and getting the support and permission of local government organizations took time and became a long and drawn out process. It all started when Soto, a publicist, and his wife, Sara, an operator with ITT, formed the company called Latin Stars, Inc., in 1988. The purpose was to obtain the sidewalks in Little Havana between 12th and 17th avenue on Calle Ocho, the main street in Little Havana, to be reserved for the stars.

The idea came about when Celia Cruz, the Cuban salsa queen, received a star in 1987 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Sotos were proud of her accomplishment, but they realized that many Latin celebrities would never be recognized in Hollywood.

The Miami Commission gave their approval for Soto's project on December 17, 1988.

The Little Havana Development Authority and the Latin Chamber of Commerce began their nominations. A seven-member committee chose the stars. Christina Saralegui, a member of the committee and editor of Cosmopolitan en Español, referred to the project as being a "Hispanic Hollywood".

The downfall of Latin Stars Inc., this nonprofit organization run by Soto and volunteers, came in 1991, when the company went broke. An audit was performed, but their financial information was incomplete. Further problems arose when sponsors did not pay on time. These sponsors were needed to help cover the $6,800 necessary to pay for a star. This price is how much it cost in the early 90's to actually build the pink marble star, receive permits that were needed, and cover the price of the event that occurs the day a celebrity gets his/her star. From the money spent on the limousine to the security to printing up the invitations, the dollar amounts added up.

In addition, Miami commissioners started to screen the celebrities being picked due to local controversy over the issue and their own concerns. On March 12, the city completely severed all relations with Soto's company.

Adding to these problems, Soto was accused of hiring a hit man to kill Miami Commissioner Miriam Alonso.

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This was announced on April 11, 1992. Additionally, he was said to be extorting money from Hispanic artists who wanted their own stars. Soto denied all of these allegations. An investigation began but Soto was never charged with any offenses. After awarding 23 stars on the Walk of Fame, Latin Stars Inc. went out of business in 1992.

In May of 1995 Alexander Franco, a Fort Lauderdale consultant, and Guido Rodriguez, who runs a Spanish entertainment newspaper, formed a new company called, "Stars of Calle Ocho". These two men wanted to continue where Soto had left off. Unfortunately, controversy struck again. City manager Cesar Odio received tips that stars were being sold to anyone who would pay the company the sum of $10,000. A former associate of Rodriguez who wanted to remain anonymous supplied this information. Rodriguez denied these charges but said that he did ask corporate sponsors for $10,000 to cover his costs. The city of Miami cleared the organization's name after an audit was conducted.

To prevent future problems, the City Commission screened the nominees after their names and backgrounds were submitted as well as the company's quarterly financial statements were disclosed. Franco promised that a committee of community, civic, and entertainment leaders would choose the nominees. Even though Franco is no longer a part of "Stars of Calle Ocho," Rodriguez is still the president and director of the organization.

Since 1988, there have been various people in charge and much debate has arisen over the nominees and financial aspects of this project. Despite all of these problems, 30 celebrities have been given stars on what is now called the "Calle Ocho Walk of Fame".

Works Cited

Branch, Karen. "Latin Stars Plan Could Become Concrete Today." Miami Herald 17 Nov. 1988: 2C.

Burch, Audra D. S. "You Can wish Upon a Star (But You Can't Get One) List of Names Keep Growing on

Folksy Stretch on Calle Ocho." Miami Herald 17 Feb. 1997: 1C.

Chardy, Alfonso. "Officials Will Investigate Sidewalk-Star Program." Miami Herald 30 June 1991: 1B.

Garateix, Marilyn. "Latin Stars' Walk Losing Luster." Miami Herald 30 June 1991: 1B.

"Little Havana Latins Stars Exec Denies Death Threats." Miami Herald 11 Apr. 1992: 2B.

Menendez, Ana. "Stars May Shine Again on Calle Ocho Sidewalk." Miami Herald 21 May 1995: 2B.

"Sound Machine To Get 1st Star on Latin Walk." Miami Herald 6 Feb. 1989: 1B.
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