Culture

A Homeowners Association Tried To Keep A Boricua Who Fought For Our Country From Flying Her PR Flag

When hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans came together to demand former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to resign following leaked chats that revealed political corruption and a series of sexist and homophobic messages, Frances Santiago wanted to stand in solidarity with her people. Living in Kissimmee, Florida, she wasn’t able to protest with her country folk on the archipelago but she demonstrated symbolically by placing her red, white and blue Puerto Rican flag outside of her home. 

Now, the Central Florida Boricua is facing a battle against her own community leaders. Three weeks after putting up the flag, the homeowner received a letter from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association requesting her to take it down. 

Santiago, an Army veteran who served 14 years as a medic, including two tours in Iraq, says she refuses to remove the flag.

“I fought for this, to be able to do this. So, I don’t see a problem with flying my flag here,” the woman told Orlando-area news station WFTV.

According to HOA bylaws, all flags are outlawed. However, the board made an exception for US flags, sports flags and flags used to honor first responders and fallen officers. Considering these edicts, Santiago is unsure why the group is asking her to remove the flag, as Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.

“Puerto Rico is part of America. What’s the big issue with us having our flag there,” she said.

HOA president Norma McNerney told  WFTV that she’s not asking the Santiago family to remove the flag because it’s from Puerto Rico; however, she did not comment on the island being the colonial property of the US and, thus, meeting the association’s criterion. 

“We treat all owners the same. If you travel through our community, you will see the only flags are those regulated by the state,” McNerney said.

Puerto Ricans have historically been banned from displaying their flag. 

While many tease that Boricuas exhibit their bandera on anything and everything, from their cars and house goods to their clothes and accessories, owning a Puerto Rican flag wasn’t legal until 1957. Nine years prior, on June 10, 1948, la Ley de La Mordaza, better known as the gag law, made it a crime to own or display a Puerto Rican flag, sing a patriotic song or speak or write of independence. The legislation, signed into law by Jesús T. Piñero, the United States-appointed governor, aimed at suppressing the growing movement to liberate Puerto Rico from its colonial ties to the United States. Anyone accused and found guilty of disobeying the law could be sentenced to ten years in prison, be fined $10,000 or both.

Additionally, in Kissimmee, which locals nicknamed “Little Puerto Rico” because of its vast Puerto Rican population, there has been pushback from community members who are not pleased with the demographic changes. City-Data forums warn people interested in moving to Central Florida to beware of Puerto Ricans, who commenters refer to as “roaches,” “criminals,” and the N-word, while news of attacks against Boricuas has become more common. Florida is home to more Puerto Ricans in the contiguous US than any other state. Most of the population resides in the Orlando-Kissimmee area. The region has been the top destination for Puerto Ricans escaping the financial crisis since 2008 and displacement following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. But it is also the prime journey stop for diasporic Puerto Ricans from New York, Chicago, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Massachusetts. The area is among the largest and fastest-growing Puerto Rican communities in the country.

As such, Central Florida Boricuas have rallied around Santiago. An online petition created by the Florida Puerto Rican group Alianza for Progress is asking the HOA to cease their discriminatory practices against Santiago and is already close to meeting its goal of 1,600 signatures. At the time of writing, it is short just 51 names.

Santiago and her husband Efrain have insisted that they have no intention of bringing the flag down.

“[The flag] will stay there and we’ll deal with it; we’ll exhaust every avenue possible,” Efrain said. “We have our house, you see, up to standards. We’re not doing anything wrong. We’re not doing anything to our neighbors by flying our flag.”

While the Santiagos haven’t presently been issued any fines for the violation, they said they do have a lawyer and are prepared to take this fight to protect their freedom further. “I’m proud of my roots, who I am, [where] I come from. We’re not offending anyone. None of the neighbors were offended with us putting the flag there,” Efrain said.

Read: The Governor Of Puerto Rico Was Caught In A Chat Using Grotesque Homophobic And Sexist Language And The Entire Island Is Calling Him To Resign In Massive Protests

Nicky Jam And Daddy Yankee Allegedly Had To Flee Puerto Rico After Death Threats

Entertainment

Nicky Jam And Daddy Yankee Allegedly Had To Flee Puerto Rico After Death Threats

nickyjampr / Instagram

Nicky Jam just confessed to a wide range of shocking statements while on a popular talk show in Spain. The reggaetonero sat down with El Hormiguero to promote his newly released album, Intimo, and Netflix’s “Nicky Jam: El Ganador,” the dramatized retelling of Nicky Jam’s life story, and the launch of reggaeton itself. Those who have seen “El Ganador” know about the artist’s previous drug addiction, but nobody knew about the death threats.

The 38-year-old Grammy winner told El Hormiguero host Pablo Motos that Daddy Yankee and he had to flee Puerto Rico because of death threats. 

Los Cangris only returned to Puerto Rico when the person threatening them died in a street fight.

Credit: @AudienciaSerie1 / Twitter

Nicky Jam and Daddy Yankee first rose to fame as the Los Cangris duo. During that time, they were still in dangerous neighborhoods. Nicky Jam recalls how a music business parter to Los Cangris was murdered, which prompted a slew of threats. Both Yankee and Nicky Jam received a death threat, which Nicky Jam says is the reason they fled to New York City. “Let’s go back and confront that guy who wants to kill us and let’s make music,” Nicky told Yankee. “Porque es que nosotros lo que hacemos es música!”

According to The Dial, that person who continued to threaten the duo ended up dying in a separate street brawl, which effectively ended Nicky Jam and Daddy Yankee’s bar from the island.

Though Nicky Jam made sure his audience knew that Puerto Rico produces “high society” people like Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony.

Credit: @nickyjampr / Instagram

No way Nicky Jam was going to let people think his candid story is a blanket statement on his island. “Don’t go thinking that we’re all from the hood,” Nicky jam assured his audience. “There are Puerto Ricans of high society who do not speak like me…,” he joked. He went onto list Luis Fonsi, Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony as “normal Puerto Ricans.” No te preocupes, Nicky Jam, not even a man armed with paper towels could tarnish the hard-working, resilient and brilliant nature of Boricuas. For good measure, he encouraged the audience to visit Puerto Rico, saying “Puerto Rico is a beautiful country… you can go and enjoy the beaches.”

He acknowledged that the graphic depiction of his childhood in “El Ganador” and subsequent drug abuse was intentional.

Credit: @alvaroher78 / Twitter

He told Motos that he knew he could have presented a rosy picture of his teenage years, but that it would accomplish nothing for the young people watching. “I wanted them to see that there are two roads,” he said. “If you take the negative, all the bad things that happened to me will happen to you.” He was candid about his drug addiction and how it overtook his family. He told the audience that even his doctor told him that “tienes dos opciones: morirte o quitarte,” you have two options, kill yourself or get clean. He told the cheering crowd that he’s been clean of drugs and alcohol for ten years, “gracias a Dios.”

Nicky Jam said that his sobriety prompted both his parents to get clean as well.

Credit: @nickyjampr / Instagram

I was the one who broke the chains and the whole family got ready,” he said. More than that, he talked about how his mother was a huge driver of his success, but not for the reasons you’d expect. Nick Rivera Caminero was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts to a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father. When he was ten years old, they moved to Barrio Obrero in Puerto Rico. As Nicky Jam’s addiction progressed to 39 pills a day of Percocet mixed with other drugs, his relationship with his parents disintegrated. By the time he was 30 years old, he didn’t know how to find his mother, and hoped that fame might bring her to him. One day, he said, “I went to do a show in the Dominican Republic and my bodyguard told me that there was a lady outside saying she was my mother.” Both his parents were struggling with their own addictions, and, reunited, he helped them gain sobriety.

Needless to say, the Internet is deeply emotionally shaken.

Credit: @jonlearreta / Twitter

“El Ganador” is no longer available on Netflix, though it’s finally been made available to Univision subscribers. You can listen to his new album “Intimo,” streaming worldwide, which was just released to patient fans on Nov. 1. We’re glad you made it out okay, Nicky Jam. Felicidades.

READ: Watch These Celebs And Dancers Take Nicky Jam And J Balvin’s ‘X Challenge’

Grandfather Of Toddler Who Fell To Her Death From A Cruise Ship Window Has Been Charged With Homicide

Things That Matter

Grandfather Of Toddler Who Fell To Her Death From A Cruise Ship Window Has Been Charged With Homicide

maricarmen_garvin / Instagram

There are new charges being brought against the grandfather of a 1-year-old girl who fell to her death from an 11th story window on a cruise ship this past July. Authorities are charging Salvatore Anello with negligent homicide after prosecutors argued that his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, 18 months, fell and died after he lifted her up to an open window on the cruise ship. Anello says he thought that the window was closed when he lifted her next to the window but instead she fell 11 stories onto the concrete below on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was docked in San Juan back on July 7. 

Salvatore Anello is facing three years in prison for the death of 1-year-old Wiegand after Puerto Rico’s Justice Department ordered his arrest this past Monday. They argue that he negligently exposed his granddaughter to the open window. 

Credit: @DailyMail / Twitter

Wiegand was on vacation with her dad, a South Bend, Indiana, police officer, her mother, siblings and both sets of grandparents on the Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas cruise ship. The family has been crushed by the news and at this time has stood by Anello’s story that he didn’t know that the window was open. According to the family, he often held up his granddaughter next to the glass at her older brother’s hockey game so she could bang on it. 

“Chloe wanted to bang on the glass like she always did at her older brothers’ hockey games,” Michael Winkleman, an attorney for Wiegand’s parents said in a July statement. “Her grandfather thought there was glass just like everywhere else, but there was not, and she was gone in an instant.”

Winkleman told NBC News that the new charges being put forward have only made the situation worse. He describes the morale within the family as “fractured” after Anello’s arrest.

“The family is crushed. Utterly crushed,” Winkleman said. “I think they were doing their best to really start the process of grieving for the months since the incident since the tragedy happened and I think they were really doing their best to keep it together for their 11-year-old son.”

The grandfather has vehemently denied any and all accusations of wrongdoing to his granddaughter. The family lawyer has called for more warnings or even a sign to notify people of the open window near the play area. 

Credit: @WTHRoom / Twitter

“I think the critical problem there was that there are strict safety regulations that are in place that are literally designed to protect against exactly that incident, which is a toddler falling through an open glass window,” Winkleman said. “Those are primarily, you could have a screen, you could have some type of grid. Or more importantly, windows in that type of a situation aren’t even supposed to open more than 4 inches.”

While video evidence has yet to be seen by the family, they are holding Royal Caribbean responsible for their daughter’s death. Winkleman told NBC News on Tuesday that the family has no reason to not believe Anello’s story. Winklemam says that the family intends to pursue a lawsuit against the cruise line.

“We know what Sam’s version of the events were, and I have no reason to doubt what he said,” Winkleman said. “Having said that, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth 10,000 words.”

Kimberly, the girl’s mother, previously told NBC’s “Today” that “I never want another mother to have to experience this or to see what I had to see or to scream how I had to scream.”

“I didn’t know that she went out a window,” Kimberley said. “And I just kept saying, ‘Take me to my baby. Where’s my baby?’ I didn’t even notice a window. I ran over there and I looked over and it wasn’t water down there, it was concrete. To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable.”

Royal Caribbean released a statement Tuesday that Weigand’s death was a “tragic incident” and is referring questions over to authorities “out of respect for the family’s privacy.”

Anello is being held on an $80,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on November 20.

READ: A Taco Truck Apologized For Serving ICE Employees At A Detention Center But Then Walked Back Their Apology