Things That Matter

House Democrats Are Demanding Answers About Why The Government Is Withholding Aid For Puerto Rico

The recovery process in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria has been exponentially slowed down by a lack of adequate help from the Trump administration. If there was any more proof of that, it came last week as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Department held up $18 billion in aid that was designated for disaster relief in Puerto Rico.

The mandated deadline for those funds came back on Oct. 4 but no money was ever released. Ninety days later, Democratic lawmakers are looking for answers as to why Puerto Rico has been left in the dark here as recovery efforts continue more than two years after Maria hit the island. Even though HUD employees have testified that they know withholding this aid is illegal, they are continuing to withhold it. 

Recovery aid is needed in Puerto Rico now more than ever but as of now, it’s being withheld due to the Trump administration’s fears that it will be put in corrupt hands. 

Back in September, Congress had asked the agency to publish funding notices to 18 disaster-stricken states and territories. Seventeen were published with Puerto Rico being the lone exception. The funding notice was supposed to be $10.2 billion in aid to help build much-needed infrastructure reinforcement in anticipation of future storms.  

“This is not meant to be a suggestion, it’s mandated,” Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. David Price, D-N.C. told NBC News. “It’s time to release this notice and the longer this goes on, the more one has to wonder about the political influences that might be taking place at the top.”

In total, the agency is holding up $18.5 billion, the largest single amount of disaster aid awarded in the agency’s history. The reasoning behind the delay stems from fears that the money could be in corrupt hands, something that the agency’s secretary Ben Carson and President Trump have previously said

 According to NBC News, Price said the “Trump administration is exaggerating the corruption allegations since the Office of Inspector General didn’t find widespread corruption within Puerto Rico’s housing agency, which would be managing the federal housing aid at stake.”

In a statement to Newsweek, an unnamed HUD spokesperson reiterated Carson and Trump’s belief in the withheld funds being misused. The statement also notes that Puerto Rico has only used a fraction of the already allocated funds available to it already.  

“The Administration has taken historic action to help the people of Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. Given the Puerto Rican government’s history of financial mismanagement, corruption, and other abuses; we must ensure that any HUD assistance provided helps those on the island who need it the most. This process must be handled in a prudent manner with strong financial controls to mitigate the risk to Federal taxpayers. In addition, it is worth noting that Puerto Rico already has access to $1.5 billion and has so far only spent $5.8 million—less than one percent of those funds.”

Now Congress has a problem on its hands that has many Democrats calling for answers about when this disaster aid will be released, if ever.  

One of the members of Congress leading the charge is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas who told reporters last week that “the Trump administration knowingly broke the law by failing to comply with the deadline to issue a federal notice for over $10 billion in aid to Puerto Rico.”

According to John Hudak, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution told NBC News these types of congressional deadlines do at times get missed but there is also a level of transparency from agencies.  

“When these conversations do not happen, it means that something else is going on and it raises concerns that something improper might be happening,” Hudak said. “Instead, they silently missed the deadline.”

Hudak said that there are a few options that Congress can take to make HUD begin dispersing the disaster aid. The first option being halting the funding that the agency uses every day to operate but there is resistance from some Democrats in going that far right now. There is also the possibility that Congress and the Puerto Rican government could take legal action and sue the agency for basically not doing its job. 

Over 850 organizations as of Saturday had joined members of Congress in calling out the agency for not complying with the law. Many of them have stressed the importance of the aid and how critical that it gets released in a timely manner.

There is increased urgency coming from over 850 various organizations that have joined together with members of Congress in denouncing HUD for its actions. At stake is Puerto Rico, which still has ways to go in terms of full recovery from Hurricane Maria.

“It is outrageous that Secretary Carson continues to withhold critical mitigation funding for Puerto Rico approved by Congress nearly two years ago,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of National Low Income Housing Coalition, one of the 850 organizations that have denounced HUD. “Secretary Carson’s decision to ignore Congress and refuse to release these funds makes it nearly impossible for Puerto Ricans to prepare for future disasters. Congress must hold him accountable – every day of inaction puts American lives at risk.”

READ: ‘We’re The Ones Making Wigs Modern’: These Female Entrepreneurs Want You To Support Black-Owned Hair Businesses

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Singer-Songwriter Kany García Speaks Out Against Conversion Therapy in Puerto Rico

Entertainment

Singer-Songwriter Kany García Speaks Out Against Conversion Therapy in Puerto Rico

As the Puerto Rican government is debating a bill on conversion therapy, Kany García is speaking out against the controversial practice. The Boricua singer-songwriter wrote an open letter to the senators in favor of Senate Bill 184, which would help end conversion therapy on the island.

Kany is one of Puerto Rico’s most-decorated artists.

García is one of the Puerto Rico’s top artists. She’s won six Latin Grammy out of a career 20 nominations. In March, she was also nominated for her third Grammy Award for her latest album Mesa Para Dos.

This year Kany celebrated five years since coming out.

On Valentine’s Day 2016, García revealed that she was in a relationship with her partner, Jocelyn Troche. The couple is still going strong with Troche appearing in last year’s “Lo Que En Ti Veo.” She and García share beautiful moments in the video. At November’s Latin Grammy Awards, there was a big wave of artists in the LGBTQ+ community in the major categories, including García, Ricky Martin, Pablo Alborán, and Jesse y Joy’s Joy Huerta.

She’s telling Puerto Rican senators to pass Senate Bill 184 in her letter.

Since coming out, García has remained at the forefront of queer issues in Puerto Rico. The passage of Senate Bill 184 seeks to prohibit conversion therapy. The controversial practice has long harmed LGBTQ+ communities. It’s thought of as a way to rid them of their queer gender or sexual identities.

“Puerto Rico deserves that every girl and boy, every young woman and young man can be who they want to be and love who they want to love,” García wrote in her letter. “This measure has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the protection of Puerto Rican children and youth.”

García speaks from her own experience. “I am an example of how to be faithful to who you are. I am a woman who deeply loves her partner and who is loved by her family and by our people. There is nothing to change. There is nothing to repair. There’s nothing to heal. We have to give the same opportunity that I have had, to be who I am, to all our children and youth.”

García further writes that the bill should be passed as-is without any amendments. According to Al Día news, Popular Democratic Party Senators Gretchen Hau, Elizabeth Rosa Velez, and Migdalia Gonzalez have filed several amendments to Senate Bill 184 as of Wednesday. Puerto Rico’s governor Pedro Pierluisi has indicated that he’s ready to override the senators if necessary.

Click here for Latido Music, 24/7 Latin music videos & more

Read: Thalía, Alejandra Gúzman, Anitta And More Lined-Up for ‘Ellas y Su Música’ Mother’s Day Special

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Rising Star Chesca Talks Career Beginnings, Being a Latina in the Music Industry, Performing at Jimmy Kimmel and More

Latidomusic

Rising Star Chesca Talks Career Beginnings, Being a Latina in the Music Industry, Performing at Jimmy Kimmel and More

Welcome to Spotlight, where we do a deep dive into the careers of artists, producers, songwriters, and more people making an impact in the Latin music industry.

Puerto Rican singer Chesca is the definition of a hustler. She started as the vocalist for her dad’s cover band in Puerto Rico and became her own manager booking shows in places like China and Greece. The world is hers for the taking and she is going for it.

Chesca is ready for global stardom and she’s taking it one step at a time.

During our interview here at Latido Music by mitú, Chesca opened up about how a tragic accident at 11 years old changed her life, how music literally saved her, and the sacrifices she’s had to make to be where she is today.

Watch the full interview below:

Chesca is aware that being a Latina in the music industry isn’t easy but feels compelled to share her story and everything she’s had to do to get here. She would pretend to be her own manager and publicist at the beginning of her career. Chesca would book herself shows around the world where she would get to perform her own original songs. One of her songs actually got picked up by the radio in China, which is a market not many Latin stars even imagine entering, especially not when they’re just starting their careers.

“With everything that I’ve been through, I have a voice, and I have a story to tell that can motivate so many young women, that’s what keeps me going,” Chesca says.

While she had some success performing in English, she felt that she needed to go back to her roots and start doing music in Spanish. The stars aligned, and Chesca was signed by Saban Music Group, and currently has some high-profile collaborations under her belt. She’s behind the viral hit like “Te Quiero Baby (I Love You Baby),” which blew up on TikTok and led her to perform at the Latin Billboards last year with Pitbull.

Chesca most recently performed at the 2021 Latin AMAs red carpet and received a nomination for Best New Latin Artist at the 2021 iHeart Radio Music Awards.

After our conversation with Chesca, it’s clear that she’s making the right moves at the right time to make a name for herself in the industry, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for her career.

READ: Ivy Queen, Goyo, and Chesca to Headline Urban Divas United Concert in April

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com