Things That Matter

New Study Shows More People Died Due To Hurricane Maria Than Originally Reported

According to a Harvard study published Tuesday, the death toll caused by Hurricane Maria likely exceeds 5,000. Authorities in Puerto Rico originally estimated that 64 people died after Maria hit the island on Sept. 20. The storm destroyed buildings and knocked out power to most of the U.S. territory, which is home to more than 3 million people. The Harvard study found that 4,645 more people died between Sept. 20 and Dec. 31, 2017, than in same period in 2016. Yet, researchers calculate there is a 95 percent likelihood the death toll was somewhere between about 800 and 8,500 people with 5,000 a likely figure.

The research team randomly selected 3,299 households in Puerto Rico for the study.

Those homes reported a total of 38 deaths, scientists then extrapolated the findings to the island’s total population of 3.4 million people to estimate the number of deaths. Researchers then subtracted fatalities recorded during that same period in 2016 and concluded that the mortality rate in Puerto Rico had jumped 62 percent in the three months after Hurricane Maria.

The Harvard study notes that in Puerto Rico every disaster-related death must be confirmed by the Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Currently only bodies that are brought to San Juan or were confirmed by a medical examiner traveling to the area are counted. Indirect deaths resulting from worsening of chronic conditions or from delayed medical treatments are not considered, according to the study.

One of the most out spoken people in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz.

In a series of tweets she said “There are many deaths caused by poor crisis management,” Adding in another post, “It took too long to understand the need for an appropriate response was NOT about politics but about saving lives.”

Many on social media are angry at the U.S. government’s slow response to the disaster.

Back in October, President Donald Trump told Puerto Rican officials they should be “very proud” that hundreds of people didn’t die after Hurricane Maria as they did in “a real catastrophe like Katrina.” Hurricane Katrina killed 1,833 people in 2005.


READ: Officials And Funeral Homes On Puerto Rico Are Reporting Vastly Different Death Toll Numbers After Hurricane Maria

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

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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

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Things That Matter

Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

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