“Sea of Maldita, otro apagón.” (“Shit, another blackout.”)
For Puerto Rican residents like 22-year-old Noelia Torres, Bad Bunny’s words in her new music video for “El Apagón” (The Blackout) couldn’t have come at a better time.
Torres, a resident of the town of Caguas, is currently without power or water following Hurricane Fiona, which caused devastating destruction, including an island-wide blackout and catastrophic flooding. .
Bad Bunny’s new video features more than just his song – it’s followed by an 18-minute documentary highlighting the injustices and inequalities that Puerto Ricans have faced for years.
The documentary “Aquí Vive Gente” (“People Live Here”) by Bianca Graulaua freelance journalist from Puerto Rico, looks at the island’s ongoing struggle with the power grid, gentrification issues, and resulting displacement for islanders.
Torres loves that the Puerto Rican trap-reggaeton superstar has used his platform to shine a light on the island’s badly deteriorated electrical system – as Puerto Ricans continue to struggle without electricity, clean water and major damage following to Hurricane Fiona.
“He uses his platform to educate about the issues that really matter,” Torres told NBC News. “He was a big Puerto Rican supporter. He always tells us to do what we want with a conscience and to always fight for our dreams and fight for a better future for our island of Puerto Rico.
Yaisha Marie Thodes had tears in her eyes when she saw her own great-grandmother in the Bad Bunny video.
“Thank you Bad Bunny, thank you for being who you are, thank you for representing us and having us in your hearts and souls,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
“Opens the eyes of many people”
Milly Clemente, a 27-year-old from Virginia, first learned about Puerto Rico’s current troubles through the Bad Bunny music video, prompting her to ask a friend about the situation and find out more.
“This song has opened the eyes of many people who were unaware of the situation in Puerto Rico and it’s a good strategy to raise awareness,” she told NBC News. “We need influential people and we need to let them have their voices heard. It’s great that Bad Bunny is raising his voice for Puerto Rico. It was the perfect time to release this video and spread the word.
Javier Tomas, 27 and a resident of Puerto Rico and New York, told NBC News he has personally experienced tons of power outages on the island. He said the Bad Bunny video is a “clear depiction” of the reality that Puerto Ricans live on a day-to-day basis.
“I think any effort to improve the quality of life in Puerto Rico is welcome,” Tomas said. “It’s important for the world to know the reality of public relations, especially the United States.”
Bad Bunny also tries to capture the sound of Puerto Rico in his music, in addition to focusing on the issues facing his home country.
“I’m very proud of my music, my culture,” Bad Bunny said in an interview earlier this year with Apple Music. “I always make music for the people of Puerto Rico first. I make music from here, for the rest of the world to hear.
“El Apagón” resonates with residents who were struggling with an aging and deteriorating power grid even before the destruction of Hurricanes Maria and now Fiona, and who have been highly critical of price increases and blackouts. after a private company took over Puerto Rico’s energy. transmission and distribution system.
The documentary also criticizes the displacement of Puerto Ricans to the island, as tax incentives have prompted wealthier investors to buy real estate and drive up prices significantly in many areas.
“They’re evicting Puerto Ricans to get rich with what’s here, with what’s native to here,” one woman, who said she had 30 days to vacate her apartment, told Graulau in the documentary. “And now, where am I going?
The documentary also discusses beach privatization, where private tourism developments restrict access to the island’s public beaches.
“It’s part of this whole sale of Puerto Rico that our Bad Bunny talks about in the video, where we see our natural resources being sold, our beaches being sold, the environment not being taken care of,” Roberto Cruz, general counsel for Latino Justice, a civil rights organization formerly known as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, said.
“All of these resources that could be developed within the Puerto Rico community are outsourced,” Cruz said.
The theme of displacement is also tied to the final lines of the Bad Bunny song, which are sung by Bad Bunny’s girlfriend, Gabriela Berlingeri. She sings in Spanish: “I don’t want to leave here, let them go. This is my beach, this is my sun. This is my land, this is me.”
In the documentary, a man tells Graulau, the filmmaker, that “it is not right to be moved by economic interests… We were born here”.
The clip has over 6 million views and an outpouring of fan comments thanking Bad Bunny for raising awareness and standing up for his community.
Cruz, fighting back tears, said that through Bad Bunny’s colorful language, the music star expressed the feelings that many Puerto Ricans have about economic and environmental injustices.
“We are proud and grateful to Bad Bunny,” Cruz said, “for giving a voice to the people of Puerto Rico during Hurricane Fiona.”
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