Artists Ask: What About Puerto Rico?
By Jocelyn Contreras
Last month’s natural disasters have united countries and communities to raise funds for Hurricane relief programs for Texas, Florida, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Even artists, star-athletes and celebrities have joined forces with these programs to help relieve these states from their distress caused by Hurricane Harvey and Irma. With billions of dollars circulating to relieve the tragedies in Texas and Florida, social media users have shared heartfelt stories of generosity. This is all done in good faith to help Mexico, Florida, and Texas—but what has the government done for Puerto Rico?
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 at approximately 6:15 a.m., south of Yabucoa Harbor. A Category 4 cyclone and an almost Category 5 hurricane knocked out the island’s electric power, thus leaving it without access to clean water. Last week, Governor Roselló gave his update on the deaths caused — totaling 34 citizens.
The general response was minimal, compared to the outpouring of support for Florida and Texas. Less news coverage was given to the devastating effects on the island. But in just one day, the floods swallowing the island surpassed three days of flooding in Hurricane Harvey. Fewer paid attention to the shattered lives of Puerto Ricans and their destroyed communities — 80 to 90 percent of the communities’ infrastructure was destroyed. And the United States’s response?
Well, President Donald Trump visited Puerto Rico 13 days after the landfall of Hurricane Maria. During his meeting there, he said to the public, “Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you have thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico.”
Though the common citizen has put no blame on the island for their troubles, we need to unite even more now since our political office holders can’t grasp the amount of lives lost and injured due to this catastrophe. Throwing paper towels to the hurting community won’t solve the broken infrastructure and the 1.7 million citizens without access to clean water.
While it’s not necessarily a must for famous and wealthy artists to reach out to a jeopardized community, a handful of artists have started their own campaigns to raise funds for Hurricane Maria relief.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of Broadway musicals “Hamilton” and “In the Heights,” has released a new single called “Almost Like Praying”— bringing together singers like Luis Fonsi, Marc Anthony, Rubén Blades, Camila Cabello, Pedro Capo, Dessa, Gloria Estefan, Fat Joe, and so many more. This benefit single names all the 78 towns in Puerto Rico, inspired by the use of social media to identify people’s loved ones in specific towns. Waiting to hear from his own Puerto Rican family, Miranda utilized his platform, especially Twitter, to raise awareness to the devastating results of Hurricane Maria. All the proceeds gained from the album will go to help those in Puerto Rico.
Public figure and celebrity duo, Stephen Colbert and Nick Kroll, used the #PuberMe to raise $1 million on “The Late Show” for Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief efforts. Other artists like J. Balvin and Willy William featured Beyoncé in their song “Mi Gente,” making a cover to raise awareness to help not only specific regions of our country, but to increase the recovery efforts to countries like Mexico and most importantly, Puerto Rico. Beyoncé sings, “Lift up your people from Texas, Puerto Rico, Dem Islands to Mexico.”
Whether it is a song or an actual funding platform, like the Hispanic Federation raising funds to help the victims of Hurricane Maria, these artists and organizations are becoming involved in these spaces to motivate and guide their audience to act when no one else is.
It’s not about the single being dropped, but about the unification of all these artists coming together to say, “Puerto Rico, we love and support you.” As citizens of the human race, we need to get involved and ignore these imaginary borders. Puerto Rico is a part of our race too with families, friends, and dreams like ourselves — and they need us more than ever.
Just like a handful of artists are making the effort to prevent any more suffering and damage in Puerto Rico, the best we can do now is inform our community of the disaster and volunteer our services to help. If the latter is impossible, then please donate to Hispanic Federation on their website (https://hispanicfederation.org) under “Hurricane Relief Effort” to help those in Puerto Rico. Let’s reach out a hand to our brothers and sisters and hope that the same will be done for us in our time of need.