Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi’s Tour Is Canceled But The Boricua Is Working Tirelessly To Raise Money For Puerto Rico

When it comes to Luis Fonsi, there’s no need for an introduction. You already know him, and even if you don’t, then you’ll most likely know his 2017 smash hit “Despacito” (and we’re not talking about the Justin Bieber version). If you’re like us at mitú, the song might still be tucked away somewhere in the very depths of your mind, playing like a broken record that still gets your body moving. 

👏And 👏You 👏Love 👏It! 👏

mitú had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Fonsi and find out what he’s been up to in this quarantine/pandemic/absolute clusterf**k of a year, and what you can expect to see on his upcoming episode of NBC’s songwriting competition show Songland.

Mitú (M): How are you doing in this time of coronavirus and quarantine?

Luis Fonsi (LF): Good! Good, good. Adapting, you know? This is new for all of us, so I’m making the best out of it. It’s a different world we’re living in now. We just have to get through it together.

M: The “Vida World Tour” was canceled because of the outbreak, which is unfortunate. Anything you would like to tell your fans?

LF: We had to postpone [the tour] for obvious reasons. I think everybody understands what it is that we’re going through and the seriousness of it. And for everybody’s safety, we have to adapt. Nobody really knows how and when things and tours and concerts will go back to “normal.” We just have to follow the instructions and make sure we’re doing things right and make sure that everybody’s safe, and hope and pray a vaccine will come out sooner than later. 

As soon as we’re given the green light, we’ll reschedule everything then go out there and hit the road like we’ve never done before, that’s for sure. It’s gonna be an interesting sort of recovery process. We’ve all been holding in a lot and going through a lot, so I think music is going to be really important to help us heal, to help us come together. It’s really gonna be special to be in front of a crowd again.

M: The Luis Fonsi Foundation helped Puerto Rico through donations and reconstructions of homes after Hurricane Maria. Is your foundation doing anything during the pandemic? Anything fans can donate to?

LF: Absolutely! We’re laying the groundwork for the big events that we’re gonna do once we can get out of the house and do them. In the meantime, I’m doing different webinars and events to raise money – whether it’s for my foundation or not – you know what I mean? I think right now it’s just helping and using music and using my platform to help. It might be for another foundation, it might be for whatever… but if I can sing a song and bring people together, then you know what? I’m doing something right. And that’s what we have to do with our time. 

We had an event in May in Puerto Rico, a gala that was gonna raise money and help the south of [the island]. They had really bad earthquakes at the beginning of the year. 2020 hasn’t been the best year [laughs] and for Puerto Rico it’s been horrible. Historic earthquakes took out most of [the southern part] of the island. People still to this day are living in tents, it’s really bad. So we wanted to do something really special but unfortunately, for obvious reasons it had to be canceled. Trust me, as soon as things go back to somewhat normal – this is just like my tour – this is a priority for me. It always has been, now more than ever.

M: What made you want to join Songland?

LF: I love the show. I was a big fan of season one. And I’ve worked with [producer] Ryan Tedder before, we’ve written some songs. I think he’s one of the most talented all-around musicians in the game. I remember him back when we were working together he was talking about the show. I saw season one and I was really happy when I got the call to be invited into this new season.

[My episode] is a different thing, it’s a bilingual take on a song. It was really cool that they support Latin music and, being the first Latin artist on the show, I love the concept of it. I love the format of it. I’m a songwriter myself, so I know what it is to be stuck in a room trying to write the best hit song ever. 

For these songwriters who are not artists themselves, who are pitching songs to other artists, it’s such a beautiful opportunity to do it directly in this way and to make a competition out of it and make it fun. So I love the concept. Obviously I knew the show from watching season one, so to be a part of it was really special. 

I think people are going to enjoy my episode this Monday. It’s really cool and the winning song is amazing! I already recorded it, I performed it. Luckily this was pre-taped earlier in the year. I’ve been waiting for this moment to see the edited show and to be able to show the world the winning song and to release it and for people to hear it.

M: Can you tell us what the song is about?

LF: I wish I could sit here and sing it for you [laughs], but I can’t really talk about it until the show airs. All I can say is that all four songs that were pitched to me were amazing. It’s so hard to just pick one, but what I can say is that from the very first time I heard that song, it just felt like it was mine, you know? It felt like a song that I could sing every day on tour, and it was fun to see it grow and change quite a bit. But the essence of the original idea is there. I think people will get a kick out of that growth process, that evolution of that original idea and how it ended up sounding. I kinda gave my own personality to it. People will hear me perform it live, which is really cool. I did it at one of my shows! It was actually my very last show before quarantine time started. So it’s going to be a cool show and I can’t wait to see it myself.

M: Do you find songwriting in English to be a totally different experience than songwriting in Spanish?

LF: It feels the same because I’m sort of used to doing both things. I feel very comfortable speaking both languages. I can kind of switch it on and off, like the rhyming process and creative process. I can think in English or I can think in Spanish. It’s not really like I have to think differently. I think it’s more about the vibe of the song, like if I’m doing something more Latin-sounding. That’s kind of where it’s more than just the language. It’s more of the culture and the style than whether I’m singing in Spanish or English, and that’s the beauty behind it.

I talk about this in the show, but I don’t know if it’s going to come out or not [laughs] because we do a lot of talking. But twenty years ago it would be really weird to do a Spanglish song, you know? To mix both languages in one song it would be a little bit clunky and awkward, but now, the way the world has come together, we’re all a little bit more open to celebrating people’s differences and cultures and languages and stuff like that. So it almost makes it kinda cool, and that’s something that I really wanted to talk about and keep on “promoting” because that’s who I am. That’s where I come from. That’s what I want to keep celebrating.

M: Where do you think Latin music is going in the future? What do you want to see next?

LF: It’s just like any kind of music, any kind of genre, any kind of language. If it’s good, if it’s a good song, people are gonna vibe. People are gonna connect to it somehow. To me, it’s not just like, “oh it’s in Spanish, they’re not gonna understand it, they’re not gonna like it.” That thought to me is gone now. Because if the song has that whatever it is – that rhythm or that catchy hook, line, or it just takes you to that place – then you’re doing something right. 

And that’s tough to do. It’s tough to get people engaged and hooked on something that they’re not fully understanding. It’s twice as hard. And I’ve been blessed to do it and I did it in a big way with a song that the world connected to. And I wish I could sit here and tell you I knew exactly what I was doing when I was doing it but no, it just happens. I use that as fuel to keep on trying to connect the world through music. At the end of the day, that’s really the final language of it all.  It’s music.

M: What advice would you give to aspiring songwriters?

That’s a tough question to answer in a simple quick way. If you’re starting out in the songwriting world, surround yourself with people who have a little bit more experience. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, to do co-writes, to sit in a room and see how other songwriters work. And then decide what your angle is and defend who you are and what it is you do and what makes you different.

I think every songwriter has an angle, has a style. That is what we all need to find, and that’s what we really need to work on. It’s like, okay I’m good at doing this, let me work on that, let me be the best at that. And just write and write and write and write and never stop writing. And that’s it. It’s like any career. You have to go out there and you have to go for it. We’re all gonna fail, we’re all gonna run into walls, and we’re gonna run into people who say that we suck and that we should find another job, and that’s part of life and we should use that as fuel. It’s happened to me as a songwriter and it’s happened to me as an artist, and we just have to use that as fuel and keep going.

M: Thank you for your time!

LF: Appreciate you guys! Please stay safe!
Luis Fonsi’s episode of Songland airs Monday, April 20th at 10p.m. ET/PT

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The President Of Mexico Has Tested Positive For Covid-19 After A Year Of Downplaying The Virus

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The President Of Mexico Has Tested Positive For Covid-19 After A Year Of Downplaying The Virus

Hector Villas / Getty Images

Since the very beginning of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has largely downplayed the severity of the crisis. Despite record-setting deaths across Mexico, the president continued to hold large rallies, rarely uses face masks and continues to be very hands on with his supporters. Many of his detractors grouped him in with Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jaír Bolsonaro in his poor response to the pandemic.

Mexico’s President AMLO has tested positive for Covid-19 and is experiencing light symptoms.

In a tweet on Sunday evening, AMLO revealed that he had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. From his official Twitter account, he said his symptoms were mild and that he was receiving medical treatment.

“I regret to inform you that I have contracted Covid-19. The symptoms are mild, but I am already receiving medical treatment. As always, I am optimistic. We will move forward,” Lopez Obrador wrote.

Despite his diagnosis, the president plans to continue business as usual. He plans to continue with his duties from the Palacio Nacional, which include conducting a planned phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the topic of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine Monday. He added on Twitter, that “I will be conducting all public affairs from the National Palace. For example, tomorrow I will take a call from President Vladimir Putin, because irrespective of friendly relationships, there is a possibility that they will send us the Sputnik V vaccine.”

AMLO has taken a very hands off approach to his country’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

AMLO, 67-years-old, has rarely been seen wearing a mask and continued to travel extensively across the country aboard commercial flights – putting both his health and those around him at risk.

He has also resisted locking down the economy, noting the devastating effect it would have on so many Mexicans who live day to day. And because of that, Mexico has one of the highest death rates in the world. Early in the pandemic, asked how he was protecting Mexico, AMLO removed two religious amulets from his wallet and proudly showed them off.

“The protective shield is the ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’” AMLO said, reading off the inscription on the amulet, “Stop, enemy, for the Heart of Jesus is with me.”

In November, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, urged Mexico’s leaders be serious about the coronavirus and set examples for its citizens, saying that “Mexico is in bad shape” with the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Mexico continues to experience the worst effects yet of the global health crisis.

Credit: Ismael Rosas / Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Thanks to a lack of national leadership, Mexico is one of the 17 countries that has reported more than one million cases of Covid-19. Since early October, newly confirmed cases and deaths have been reaching record levels, with recent daily numbers some of the highest since the beginning the pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Mexico has recorded at least 1,752,347 Covid-19 cases and 149,084 people have died from the virus in the country.

In hardest-hit Mexico City, nearly 30 public hospitals report they have reached 100% percent capacity, and many others are approaching that mark. The city’s Mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, has urged residents to not go out unless absolutely necessary. In December, Mexico City and the state of Mexico were placed into “red level,” the highest measure on the country’s stoplight alert system for Covid-19 restrictions. The tighter measures included the closure of indoor dining, with only essential sectors like transport, energy, health and construction remaining open.

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Just After Congress Approves $600 Stimulus Checks, Trump Threatens To Veto The Bill

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Just After Congress Approves $600 Stimulus Checks, Trump Threatens To Veto The Bill

Pixabay

Updated: December 23, 2020

Just days after the U.S. Congress approved legislation that would send millions of Americans much-needed stimulus checks – even though they were only $600 – Donald Trump has thrown the entire plan into chaos.

Donald Trump threatens to veto historic spending bill.

Trump is holding a veto threat over recently passed, bipartisan legislation that was aimed at stimulating a suffering economy. Trump says that he wants lawmakers to boost the $600 direct payments to checks for $2,000 but his own party is basically united against increasing the size of checks.

Many point out that Trump is simply holding up the legislation, not for the stimulus checks, but because he objects to other parts of the law. Within the spending package, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle approved spending for arts and cultural programs as well as aide to developing countries across the world.

Original Story Published: December 18, 2020

So it looks like millions of Americans may end up getting that long overdue second stimulus check after all. So long as Congress doesn’t screw things up again.

As part of the latest round of negotiation between Democrats and Republicans, it looks a like a proposal for $600 direct payments is back on the table. However, $600 is literally half of the amount that was sent out to millions of Americans back in April and May.

A new stimulus package could include direct payments to millions of Americans.

Congressional leaders are considering a new deal to help stimulate the economy which has been battered by the Coronavirus pandemic. And although it appeared, as recently as last week, that a second stimulus check was off the table, that seems to have changed.

The new deal under consideration included new stimulus checks and enhanced federal unemployment benefits, according to reports by Politico. Even President Trump said in a TV interview over the weekend that he wants stimulus checks in the deal, saying he wants to “see checks—for more money than they’re talking about—going to people.”

Millions of workers aren’t getting any help from the largest emergency aid deal in US history.

The bill, known as the CARES Act, delivers direct payments to most taxpayers, vastly expands unemployment benefits, and makes testing for the virus free, among other provisions.

But although unauthorized immigrants are no more immune from the effects of the current crisis, the stimulus bill conspicuously leaves them out in the cold — potentially putting them at greater economic and health risk, and impeding public health efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.

There are an estimated 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the USA who are ineligible for emergency federal benefits or state unemployment insurance because they don’t have valid work authorization. 

That’s left an extra layer of anxiety for immigrants without legal status who have lost their jobs or seen work hours reduced amid the statewide shutdown of “nonessential” businesses. Many turned to local organizations for help to put food on the table and pay other expenses. 

Undocumented residents are already at greater risk of being affected by Covid-19 because of inadequate resources and access to health care.

The unauthorized worker population is particularly vulnerable to the virus due to inadequate access to health care. Noncitizens are significantly more likely to be uninsured compared to US citizens, which may dissuade them from seeking medical care if they contract the virus.

Compounding matters are the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies — including wide-scale immigration raids and a rule that can penalize green card applicants for using Medicaid — which have made noncitizens afraid to access care. These factors pose a problem for America’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 12,000 in the US as of April 7.

Where the government is failing, advocates and organizations are stepping up to help.

Some immigrant advocates lobby for the undocumented to be included by allowing payments to those who file taxes using individual tax identification numbers, which are often used by workers without legal immigration status. 

“They should include at least the individual taxpayers,” said Diana Mejia, founder of the Wind of the Spirit, an organization that helps immigrants in New Jersey’s Morris County.  “They are paying taxes,” she added in an interview with CNN.

Filers who use ITINs contribute about $11.74 billion in state and local taxes each year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington think tank.

Aside from millions of undocumented migrants, millions of others are also being left out of the stimulus:

Credit: Department of Treasury

College Students and 17-Year-Olds: If someone else claims you as a dependent on their taxes, you won’t get your own check. Parents will get an extra $500 payment per child, but that’s only for kids under 17.

Most 17-year-olds, some young adults and many of the country’s roughly 20 million college students are claimed by their parents as dependents. They won’t get checks, and their parents won’t get an extra $500.

Disabled People: People who get disability benefits from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs are eligible for the payments — but not disabled adults who are claimed as dependents by their parents or other relatives on their taxes

Seniors Who Live With Family: Senior citizens who are on Social Security or make less than the income cap are eligible. But the “dependent” rule applies to them, too. Some seniors who live with their adult children or other relatives are claimed by them as dependents on their taxes. Those seniors won’t get checks.

Immigrants are eligible for some free testing.

Credit: Pixabay

Here’s one thing the bill does offer to unauthorized immigrants: free coronavirus testing at government-funded community health centers through a $1 billion federal program. But some community health centers have already reported shortages of tests.

There is also a larger, state-level testing program funded through Medicaid, but that’s only available to Medicaid-eligible immigrants — green card holders who have lived in the US for at least five years, immigrants who come to the US on humanitarian grounds such as asylum, members of the military and their families, and, in certain states, children and pregnant women with lawful immigration status. Those groups, however, make up only a small proportion of immigrants living in the US. 

US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that it won’t consider use of free testing services when evaluating whether immigrants will likely end up relying on public benefits under the “public charge” rule, which went into effect in February

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