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

Bad Bunny’s ‘En Casita’ Is The Self-Isolation Anthem You Didn’t Realize You Needed

Entertainment

Bad Bunny’s ‘En Casita’ Is The Self-Isolation Anthem You Didn’t Realize You Needed

badbunnypr / Instagram

Bad Bunny is one musician we all know and love. He uses his platform to speak on issues around the world. Now, Bad Bunny is using his music, and relationship, to give people a song to remind them to stay home and stay safe. We are all in this together no matter how far apart we are.

Bad Bunny and his girlfriend Gabriela are here to help you through your self-isolation.

“En Casita” is literally here to remind you to keep yourself at home. We all might be feeling a little stir crazy and ready to get back out into the world but it is so important to work together to defeat this virus’s spread. Every country is trying to flatten the curve to keep the number of hospitalizations to a minimum and that might be uncomfortable.

People are loving the collab between Bad Bunny and Gabriela.

Not just musically. People on Twitter are loving the real-life collab between the two. Sure, the music is great but seeing the kind of love out little Bad Bunny can have is something we have all been waiting for.

Bad Bunny wants everyone to know that this song was improvised and not planned.

Some people are apparently trying to call bad Bunny out on the song because of its simplicity. However, not everything had to be so complicated if you are trying to make a banger. “En Casita” is the perfect song to let play while you go about your day within your space.

Listen to the full song below and get yourself in the right state of mind.

Stay safe. Stay home. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. Let’s work together to move forward together.

READ: From Latin Trap ‘Rude Boy’ To Harvard Speaker: Bad Bunny Was Invited To Give A Talk To Harvard Students

Bad Bunny Honored A Murdered Trans Woman During Jimmy Fallon In Simple And Powerful Way

Entertainment

Bad Bunny Honored A Murdered Trans Woman During Jimmy Fallon In Simple And Powerful Way

A trans woman was shot and killed in Puerto Rico after she used the women’s bathroom at a McDonald’s. The attackers filmed her death as they laughed in her final moments. Adding insult to injury, many Puerto Rican news outlets covered her death as a man in a skirt. Bad Bunny, who has long championed for the LGBTQ+ community, used his time on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” to address the misgendering of Alexa Negrón Luciano after her humiliating and brutal death.

Bad Bunny took time during his performance on Jimmy Fallon to bring attention to a trans woman who was killed in Puerto Rico.

Credit: @DavidBegnaud / Twitter

Alexa Negrón Luciano was a homeless trans woman known in Puerto Rico. She was often ridiculed by people on the streets and on social media where photos were posted making fun of her as an oddball. That mockery and callousness of those around her reached a deadly conclusion last week.

According to reports, a woman customer at a McDonald’s in Tao Baja, Puerto Rico claimed Negrón Luciano tried peeping on her as she used the bathroom. She was then questioned by police as people took photos and posted them on social media. Twelve hours later, a video circulated on social media of Negrón Luciano’s assassination as the assailants are heard laughing on the video.

Media reports from Puerto Rico initially broke the story calling Negrón Luciano “a man in a skirt.”

Credit: @TropiSenpai / Twitter

Puerto Rico has long been criticized for the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. Last year, Puerto Ricans and celebrities took to the streets to protest against a “religious freedom” bill that would allow the discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community. The bill, initially supported by then-Governor Ricardo Rosselló, ultimately didn’t pass after strong pushback in Puerto Rico and from around the world.

Not long after the bill was blocked, Governor Rosselló was caught up in a group chat scandal where he and those who worked with him spoke about the LGBTQ+ community and women in disparaging terms. The group chat scandal fueled more protests and eventually led to Gov. Rosselló resigning from his position after growing outcry.

Despite presenting an LGBTQ+-friendly face to the world, Puerto Rico’s anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment is still a very real fear for those on the island.

Credit: @AlyssaCortesNV / Twitter

The New York Times has reported that women’s and LGBTQ+ rights have advanced significantly in recent decades. However, an underlying fear of physical and legislative violence has scarred the communities. While some measures to protect LGBTQ+ people have progressed, like an employment non-discrimination law, there is a strong coalition of conservative and Christian evangelicals fighting the progress.

“This has served as a reminder that some of these advances are at risk, that there is still discrimination, that there is still homophobia,” Pedro Julio Serrano, an activist in San Juan, told The New York Times after the shooting death of gay Latin trap singer Kevin Fret. “We can’t forget that.”

This is why Bad Bunny openly correcting the media’s and people’s perception of Negrón Lucian is so important.

Credit: @MommyDearest64 / Twitter

Last year, at least 26 transgender and gender non-conforming people were murdered in the U.S. for being who they are. Mainly, deadly violence is focused on trans women of color with Black trans women dying at higher rates. The real statistics of these murders are hard to track because often the victims are misgendered by the media or family who never accepted them for who they are. So far, in 2020, there are believed to be at least two trans women murdered in the U.S.

Some responses to the performance show the work still needed to break the ignorance and hate around a vulnerable community.

Credit: @anamdelosreyes / Twitter

Trans people, like all people, deserve the same respect when it comes to pronouns and the right to live without fear and violence. Bad Bunny’s shirt addressing Negrón Luciano by name and not “a man in a skirt” is a significant moment in demanding that respect.

You can watch Bad Bunny’s full performance below.

Thank you for standing with the LGBTQ+ community, Bad Bunny.

READ: Bad Bunny Is The Modern Icon The Queer Latino Community Needs And Deserves Right Now. Here’s Why