Miami City commissioner met with controversy over Little Havana event

MIAMI (WSVN) - A Miami City commissioner has been met with backlash just hours before a celebration was set to be held in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.

Commissioner Joe Carollo hosted the unveiling of the neighborhood’s new flag Friday. The design combines the American and Cuban flags with a rooster in the center. Around the edges, the flag also carries flags from all of the countries represented in Little Havana.

Carollo said he worked with the flag’s artist to carefully craft a banner that is inclusive and that prominently displays the American and Cuban flags.

“The Cuban flag, like the Cuban people, has had such a close history with the United States, throughout the years that these two flags had to be filmed together in a very different way,” he said.

This unveiling also kicked off Little Havana Fridays, a celebration at Domino Park featuring big names like Pitbull.

However, this event also comes with controversy. The chairman of Cultural Fridays said Carollo is trying to steal their event.

“This is a man who knows that it’s easier to steal, in his mind, than to create,” Bill Fuller said.

Cultural Friday has been a staple in the area for 18 years. Now, the stage is set for Little Havana Fridays.

“These people are fake. They have another agenda,” Carollo said. “[Little Havana Fridays] is an event for all of Little Havana, but not just for a handful of people.”

The commissioner claims the previous party was rundown and neglected.

“What was here was 20 to 30 people selling everything from clothes, you name it, and they were charging $75 and not getting city permits,” he said.

Carollo has since moved forward with his event, effectively giving the boot to Cultural Fridays.

“We actually operated for many years without a permit, and we were told that we didn’t need permits,” Fuller said.

Fuller is also the co-owner of a hot spot located just across the street.

“The Ball & Chain has been the number one nightlife destination on TripAdvisor for the last two years in a row,” he said. “In the City of Miami, who do you think is gonna throw the best party?”

Fuller has since opted to take the matter to court. A trial date on the topic has been set for January.

“This is an attack that he has conducted on our businesses, on our non-profits, on our character,” Fuller said.

“They’ve been able to get enough money to pay a small army of PR people to go out and smear me, lie about me, spread fake news about me and hire attorneys,” Carollo said.

The future of the location is now in the hands of a judge.

Copyright 2018 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.