Things That Matter

Puerto Rico Is Completely Flooded And Could Go Months Without Electricity. Here’s How People In The U.S. Are Uniting Beautifully To Help

Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico on Wednesday, inundating its towns with mudslides and floods and leaving the entire island without electricity. With poles and lines collapsed over many of the island’s streets, it could take half a year to restore power to its 3.5 million inhabitants, and that’s for those whose homes weren’t completely destroyed. Photos and videos keep pouring into social media of demolished residencies, roofless homes and windowless apartments. At least one person has been reported dead.

At 155 miles per hour, the category 4 hurricane was the worst to hit the country in more than 80 years, and it came as the Caribbean island is grappling with its years-long debt crisis. “The San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer there,” an emotional Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, told NBC. With trees toppled, roads flooded and buildings shattered, the same can be said of most of “La Isla del Encanto.”

The people of Puerto Rico, the same ones who after getting slammed by Hurricane Irma earlier this month aided other Caribbean islands in need, are in dire need of our help. For those who are able, we urge you to donate money, goods or even blood to the folks of El Borikén. Below, we’ve listed funds, drives and events occurring on the island and across the country where you can help out.

Puerto Rico

To best serve the people of Puerto Rico, it’s crucial to support and donate to the organizations and funds doing work on the ground. Donations to Hurricane Maria Community Recovery Fund will go to people on the frontlines, those supporting low-income communities of color that are often hit hardest yet see the slowest recovery. There’s also ConPRmetidos, a nonprofit based on the island, that started the Puerto Rico Real-Time Recovery Fund. They are hoping to raise $150,000 to provide immediate needs like food, water and shelter to the people as well as assist in long-term recovery efforts. Also, Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico is a nonprofit organization with a history of providing direct services to the people of Puerto Rico. They don’t currently have an online fundraiser but donations can be sent via mail at: Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico ​P.O. Box 191914 San Juan, PR 00919.

New York

In New York, Defend Puerto Rico is partnering with two local organizations on the island, Nuestra Escuela and Taller Salud, for a LOIZA Hurricane Relief Fundraiser. The Bombazo-style event, which takes place at the Julia de Burgos Art Center in East Harlem on Thursday, Sept. 21 (today) from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., will include music, dance and art. There’s a $5 suggested donation fee, with all of the funds going to the two Puerto Rico-based organizations. If you can’t make the event, but still want to donate, you can do so at its YouCaring campaign.

Also in Nueva York, Barrio Poetix will host a hurricane relief event on Tuesday, Sept. 26 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The evening, hosted by Puerto Rican poet Mariposa, will include several poetry and musical performances. Organizers are asking for a $10 suggested donation.

For those in the city who can’t attend events but want to send items to Puerto Rico, El Maestro, located at 1300 Southard Blvd. Bronx, New York 10459, and Casabe Senior Houses, at 150 East 121 Street in East Harlem, are taking clothing, non-perishable foods, personal hygiene items, baby supplies, first aid kits and batteries between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. from Thursday (today) until Sept. 23.

Florida

Throughout Florida, there are several events and donation drop-offs. Starting Sept. 21 (today), there will be donation drives in Orlando, Greenacres and Tampa. Similar drives will also commence on Friday in Miami and Sept. 29 in West Palm Beach.

For those in Central Florida, the Lake Nona Run Club will host a Re-Building Puerto Rico 5K in Orlando on Saturday, Sept. 30. There’s a suggested donation of $10, with all funds going to assistance on the island. Also in Orlando, Centro Borinqueño, located at 1865 N. Econlockhatchee Tr., Orlando, Florida 32817, will have a blood drive on Saturday, Sept. 23, and Sunday, Sept. 24. On Oct. 1 in Lakeland, instructor Rosa Garcia will host a 90-minute Zumba session dedicated to Puerto Rico relief.

Chicago

In Chicago, The Puerto Rican Agenda is hosting an emergency fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 22 at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center. The event, which will take place from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., will include live performances, a silent auction and more. There’s a $25 donation required to get in.

Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, UnidosPa’PR will host a meeting and press conference on Thursday, Sept. 21 (today) to introduce the group and provide information on how to get involved. The same organization will host a donors reception on Sunday, Sept. 24 at Fairhill Square Park from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Also in “The City of Brotherly Love,” Norris Square Community Alliance, a community development center operated by women, is taking donations on Thursday, Sept. 21 between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. They are collecting water, batteries, candles, bleach, powdered mills, baby formula, diapers and canned goods.

New Jersey

Puertorriquenos Asociados For Community Organization (PACO) is holding a drive in Jersey City. Locals can donate water, bleach, canned goods, batteries and senior/children’s diapers at the drop-off location on 390 Manila Ave. Jersey City, NJ. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Saturday. On Sept. 29, New Jersey’s DC Social Club will throw a hurricane relief fundraiser from 6 p.m. till closing. A $20 donation will get you indoors for drinks, food and music by Jay La Musica.

Boston

Boston Boricuas are gathering next week on Tuesday, Sept. 26 for a brainstorming session at La Galería, located at 405 Shawmut Ave., from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The discussion will center on how to better support families and friends en la isla. If you’re Boston-based but can’t make it out that day, you can join the conversation by dialing in to 695-475-4120 (access code: 683*3847).

California

In Oakland, Calif., Taller Bombalele’s monthly Bombazo en la Bahia event will this month help fundraise money for relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The jam session, which will include live music and dance, will be at the AU Lounge (2430 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612) from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24. There’s a $5-$7 suggested donation. Next month, San Francisco’s Por Una Causa will host a perreo to help the island recover from the disaster. The “reggaetón for a cause” party happens on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at El Rio, at 3158 Mission St. San Francisco, CA 94110. The tickets are $10 presale and $15 at the door.

Cali-based folks who can’t attend the events but want to assist in relief efforts can donate money to a GoFundMe put together by the Los Angeles-based group Puerto Ricans in Action. All funds will be donated to the following nonprofits in Puerto Rico: ConPRmetidos, Iniciativa Comunitaria, Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico, United Way of Puerto Rico.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.-based Boricuas have organized a DCRicans For Puerto Rico relief event to help aid the island following Hurricane Maria’s devastation. The event, which will take place at the Hawk ‘n’ Dove in Southeast on Friday, Sept. 22, will include live Puerto Rican folk music. All funds raised will go to the United for Puerto Rico fund.

Cleveland

In Cleveland, Ohio, Puerto Ricans started a drive to support their island. Starting on Sept. 21 (today) and going through Sept. 24, donations can be taken to the San Lorenzo Club at 3415 Clark Avenue in Cleveland between noon and 8 p.m. The group is currently accepting canned goods, baby food, clothing, water, non-perishable items, diapers and pet supplies.

Read: 9 Hits To Get You Hype And Proud To Be Puerto Rican

Let us know what relief efforts are taking place in your community in the comments and consider sharing them on this disaster relief Google Doc.

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

Hacker Attempts To Steal $4 Million From Puerto Rican Government In Phishing Scam

Things That Matter

Hacker Attempts To Steal $4 Million From Puerto Rican Government In Phishing Scam

John Piekos / Flickr

Hackers attempted to steal $4 million from the Puerto Rican government using a common phishing scam. The scams referred to as business email compromises, target public and private entities every year on the U.S. mainland. Here’s what we know so far.

A hacker attempted to steal millions of dollars from the Puerto Rican government.

Credit: @DavidBegnaud / Twitter

According to reports, hackers were able to infiltrate various agencies in the Puerto Rican government through phishing emails. The hackers attempted to access $4 million dollars by targeting Puerto Rico’s Industrial Development Company and the Tourism Company.

The Industrial Development Company sent around $2.6 million while the Tourism Company wired over $1.5 million. According to the AP, the agencies received emails from a fraudulent employee claiming there was a change of bank accounts.

Federal officials say they were about to freeze the money to prevent loss to Puerto Rico.

David Begnaud of CBS News took to Twitter to update people on the latest developments. According to Begnaud’s conversation with federal authorities, the hackers had not received the money from Puerto Rico and they were able to freeze it. They are working to send the money back to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is not the only victim in a phishing crime. During the same time as the hacking of Puerto Rico, a school district in Manor, Texas lost $2.3 million and another $800,000 were stolen from officials in Griffin, Georgia. More than 23,000 of these scams stole $1.7 billion from businesses and agencies in the U.S. mainland last year. The FBI was able to recover around $300 million.

The news is surprising people on social media.

Credit: @MilagsCon / Twitter

Corruption in Puerto Rico’s government has been a topic of discussion since Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Puerto Rico was recently devastated by a series of earthquakes while still recovering from the 2017 hurricane that devastated the island. Missing relief funds and misplaced supplies have angered Puerto Ricans in recent months as it comes to light.

This latest financial and security shortcoming of Puerto Rico’s government is not helping its reputation.

Credit: @J_Fort47 / Twitter

Puerto Ricans have been showing their displeasure with the elected officials on the island for years. Recently, Puerto Ricans protested and marched until Ricardo Rosselló resigned from his office. The former governor was caught in a group chat scandal in which he made derogatory comments about the LGBTQ+ community and women. There were also allegations of corruption and misuse of funds within his admi9nistration that led to a series of investigations.

READ: The Puerto Rico Department of Justice Is Seeking An Independent Investigation Into Ricardo Rosselló