Zeta's Daniel Saud Faces Deportation, Putting Miami Latin Rock Band in Jeopardy

The members of Zeta.
The members of Zeta. Courtesy of the artist
It might sound corny, but Daniel Saud and his Zeta bandmates believe in the American dream. Saud formed the rock band in his hometown of Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, back in 2002 when he was 12 years old. Joined by Juan Chi, Gabriel Duque, and Juan Gonzalez, the quartet has trouble defining the genre of their heavy sound, finally accepting "Psychedelic Caribbean" as a band descriptor. Starting in 2010, the band became road warriors traveling all over South America. In 2015, their first visit to the U.S., Zeta decided America should be their new home base.

"A lot of Venezuelan artists in Miami convinced us we should stay here. We met with a lawyer and started the process," Saud told New Times.

In 2016, Saud and Chi applied for residence. "We were going to apply for an artist visa, but for that, you need a sponsor. On this petition, you are your own sponsor."

The application process took about a year, Saud said. They filled out 500 pages of paperwork showing they were a legitimate touring and working band. They sent the appropriate offices recording and touring contracts, blog articles, and even an award they won as Best Metal Band in Venezuela. Everything seemed to be evolving smoothly. Saud formed a limited liability company for the band that served as the sponsor of the group's drummer's artist visa, and they went back on the road. In 2018, they played 205 shows all over America.

It was on their current tour that Saud discovered his visa application had been denied. With only 30 days to appeal the decision or leave the country, the band made a U-turn in Colorado Springs, canceling ten shows and returning to Miami in hopes of resolving the issue.

Saud is confused by the arbitrary nature of his visa rejection. "It makes no sense. Juan Chi and I applied at the same time, and he got approved but I didn't. Neither of us have criminal records. Our drummer got the visa but I didn't, and my LLC is his sponsor. They seem to know the band is established, but they don't understand why the guitarist and founder is important to the band."

Saud hopes outcry from Zeta's fans will show how crucial he is to the band, which will dissolve if he is deported. The group plans to play a couple of live shows during the appeals process, including one at Sweat Records February 5 and another at Las Rosas February 8. There, Saud says, fans can show their support.

Saud still believes this can be resolved. Beyond not wanting to break up his band and the mess his native Venezuela finds itself in, there's an altruistic reason why he needs to stay in the U.S.:  "My mom in Venezuela is struggling with Alzheimer's. Staying here helps me work on my dream and also lets me send money. Back in Venezuela, everyone is struggling. I can't afford to help her living there."

Soul Glo and Zeta. 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 5, at Sweat Records, 5505 NE Second Ave., Miami; Admission costs $5 to $10.  
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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland