The spirit of Puerto Rico convinced her to keep the spotlight on the island.
Samantha Bee is one tv show host that is not afraid to bring attention to the stories that matter. Her latest ambitious project is Puerto Rico. The island was on the forefront of the American consciousness after Hurricane Maria devastated the island and sent all Puerto Ricans into darkness. Now, six months laters, more than 100,000 people remain without power and cities still experience rolling blackouts as a result of the storm. Bee and her crew are reporting from the island to give a glimpse into the current situation for Puerto Rico.
Bee is comparing hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico with hypothetical examples.
Bee points out that the blackout currently impacting Puerto Rico would be taken much differently if it was a state. As Bee points out, imagine something this devastating happening in Connecticut or Florida. A six-month blackout and refusal to send aid to a state would not be acceptable. This leads Bee to ask, why isn’t the federal government giving all of the requested aid to Puerto Rico? The island is inhabited with American citizens after all. According tot he video, Puerto Rican officials have requested $94.4 billion in aid but only $16 billion has been approved. That is $78.6 billion less than what was requested.
Furthermore, Bee spoke with people that are volunteering their time and services in their hurricane-stricken communities.
Since the federal government hasn’t done enough to help the recovery, communities have come together to fix things. Barbers set up shop to cut people’s hair who don’t have electricity, laundry parties are a thing where people wash their clothes on a bus, and one organization specializing in solar power and sustainable food growing opened their doors to those affected by the hurricane.
Check out more on the Full Frontal With Samantha Bee YouTube channel.
Over the last week, Puerto Rico has been hit with multiple political scandals that have motivated thousands of people on the island and in the diaspora to protest. Puerto Ricans are calling for the resignation of its governor, its fiscal control board and, for a growing sum, its colonial ties to the United States. A lot of the unrest stems from recent private messages released that showed the governor using offensive language against women, the LGBTQ+ community, and Hurricane Maria Victims.
Puerto Rico is being rocked with a growing political scandal.
On Wednesday, the FBI arrested former Education Secretary Julia Keleher, former Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration head Angela Avila-Marrero, businessmen Fernando Scherrer-Caillet and Alberto Velazquez-Piñol, and education contractors Glenda E. Ponce-Mendoza and Mayra Ponce-Mendoza, who are sisters, on 32 counts of fraud and related charges.
The streets were filled with people demanding that the governor resign facing corruptions and damning messages leaked to the public.
The corruption scheme, which ushered federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors, involves $15.5 million in federal funding between 2017 and 2019. Of that, 13 million was spent by the Department of Education during Keleher’s time as secretary. During her two-year term, Keleher, an Italian-American educational leader from Philadelphia, was criticized by the people of Puerto Rico for closing down hundreds of schools and implementing the island’s first charter school. The additional $2.5 million was spent by the insurance administration when Avila was the director.
The governor was caught in a chat using grotesque homophobic and sexist language.
Just days later, on Saturday, the island experienced another political blow: Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published 889 pages of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s private Telegram chat. The secret messages, between him and several of his aides, included profanity-laced, and at times misogynistic, homophobic and violent, comments and memes about several high-profile women politicians, celebrities, the press and even the victims of Hurricane María.
Puerto Rico-born former New York city council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is one person the governor attacked.
“All of my solidarity with my friend @CarmenYulinCruz for the unacceptable attacks by @ricardorossello,” Mark-Viverito tweeted. “The women are not ‘b*tches’ nor ‘sons of b*tches,’ we are fighting, courageous, and dignified human beings who contribute to society. Stop the machismo!”
In one chat, Rosselló calls Mark-Viverito a “puta” for criticizing DNC Chair Tom Perez, who was siding with statehood Democrats like Rosselló, who is the leader of the Statehood party in Puerto Rico. In another, the governor’s former chief financial officer Christian Sobrino said of San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who is running for Puerto Rico governor in the 2020 elections, that he was “dying to shoot her up.” Rosselló replied: “You’d be doing me a big favor.”
Mark-Viverito, who now heads the Latino Victory Project, released a statement in response to the governor’s violent sexism.
“The governor’s machismo was exposed,” she said in Spanish. “When a male chauvinist wants to belittle a woman, he uses words like “whore” to belittle, dehumanize and degrade her. A person who uses that language against a woman, whether a public figure or not, should not govern Puerto Rico.”
The conversations also included transphobic remarks about transgender and gender nonconforming protestors and homophobic comments about Ricky Martin.
“It is shameful and unacceptable and it isn’t resolved with an apology,” Martin tweeted. “This is not the government we need. This is not the Puerto Rico that our grandparents and parents built and even less [the Puerto Rico] we want to leave to our children.”
One associate wrote, “Nothing says patriarchal oppression like Ricky Martin. He is such a male chauvinist that he f–ks men because women don’t measure up. Pure patriarchy.”
Probably the most stomach-churning exchange in the leaked chat was Sobrino joking about the backlog of dead bodies after the devastating 2017 storm.
“Now that we are on the subject, don’t we have some cadavers to feed our crows? Clearly, they need attention,” he wrote, likely referencing journalists and the administration’s critics, who long questioned Rosselló’s assertion that the hurricane claimed only 64 lives. A Harvard study later put the death toll at 4,645.
The impropriety, which has been nicknamed #TelegramGate, has been likened to the Watergate scandal, which rocked President Nixon’s administration in the 1970s and ultimately led to his resignation.
“For Puerto Ricans, this has been basically our Watergate,” Caribbean scholar Yarimar Bonilla, who writes about post-Hurricane Maria recovery, told CBS News. “The government is distracted thinking about its image, worrying about how they’re being represented in the press instead of attending to matters of the recovery.”
While two members of Rosselló’s cabinet have offered their resignations, the people are similarly calling on Rosselló to step down.
For several days, thousands of protestors have taken over the streets of Old San Juan, packing the cobblestone lane in front of La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion, demanding that he immediately give up his seat. On Monday, the mostly-peaceful action turned violent when police officers tear-gassed crowds, injuring dozens and arresting five protestors. The streets were ablaze, but the people, enlivened, stayed chanting that they were not afraid.
They’re not alone. Celebrities like Ricky Martin, Residente, Kany Garcia, Jon Z and more have taken to social media calling on the governor to resign. Meanwhile, rapper PJ Sin Suela released a heated track called PUTA, referencing Rosselló’s misogynistic comments, about political corruption on the island, and Bad Bunny announced on Instagram that he would be leaving Europe, where he is touring, to fly to Puerto Rico and march with the people on Wednesday.
Bad Bunny posted a video as a call to action for all Puerto Ricans to march and demonstrate.
Across the U.S., Puerto Ricans of the diaspora have also united, with protests in New York, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, and more scheduled for Tuesday in Miami and Orlando, where a majority of Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane María found refuge.
Despite the massive calls, on Tuesday morning, Rosselló, who has apologized for his “improper acts” and attended an Evangelical church where pastors prayed over him, insisted that he would not resign.
“I have not committed an illegal act and I have not committed an act of corruption,” he said during a press conference. “I committed some improper acts and I asked forgiveness for that.”
The governor also noted that the prime reason he would not resign is that he “was elected by the people” — despite many of those Puerto Ricans now begging for his removal.
When Raquel Reichard started to plan her 29th birthday, she knew she wanted it to be a tribute to the one and only Bad Bunny. The Puerto Rican singer holds a special place in Reichard’s heart and nothing was going to derail this theme. Now, it wasn’t just a backdrop for selfies and a Bad Bunny playlist. No. Reichard went all out to give everyone a complete Bad Bunny experience while celebrating her birthday.
Raquel Reichard wanted to ring in her 29th birthday with a Bad Bunny tribute party.
Reichard says that she is a huge Bad Bunny fans but it isn’t only because of his music. His music is very important to her but his social consciousness and mold-breaking styling as a reggaeton and Latin trap artist spoke to her.
“He makes great music,” Reichard says. “His lyrics are brilliant; he’s challenging machismo and redefining masculinity; he uplifts women in a way we really haven’t seen from cis het men, both in mainstream music and in grassroots movements; he’s open about his mental health journey; he speaks out against the political and social turmoil that is taking place in Puerto Rico right now, both by the US and local governments — and he does all this in a way that’s digestible and of the gente.”
She added: “Also, I think he’s fine as hell. If you know me, you know I’m a big Bad Bunny fan, una coneja mala, as my brother calls me now, so it only seemed fitting that if there were a theme to my birthday party this year, it had to be Benito.”
Reichard got crafty and creative and offered guests all sorts of goodies to hold and wear for photos that are Bad Bunny.
Who wouldn’t want to wear some bunny ears while partying it up to some Bad Bunny songs? If there is one thing we can all agree with, playing dress up for a good party is always a fun time.
The biggest part of the party was the “Estamos Bien” theme.
Reichard remembers 2017 being one of the hardest years of her life and how Bad Bunny’s music helped her cope with everything she was dealing with.
“I got out of an eight-year relationship with someone I thought I was going to marry. I left my job at a big-name magazine. I went from having a beautiful apartment to sleeping on a friend’s couch. I was broke. Hurricane María razed my island and compounded an already-horrifying financial crisis. My cousin passed away. Everything that could go wrong that year literally went wrong,” Reichard explains. “Reggaeton and Latin trap, particularly that of Bad Bunny’s, helped me through it all. His emo-perreo helped me twerk my way through every stage of loss, from anger to depression to acceptance. It was temporary relief on the dancefloor. It was bigging me up when I felt low. It was a passport to explore new parts of myself.”
So, the phrase “Estamos Bien” is something super important for Reichard.
“‘Estamos Bien’ is a declaration and reminder of where I’m finally at in my life. As I said, 2017 was the most-difficult year of my life. The following year, I did the really challenging, but necessary, work that I needed to do to heal, learn and grow,” Reichard recalls. “At the start of 2019, I was feeling ‘ni bien, ni mal.’ But by spring, it hit me that for the first time in a while, I was good. More than that, the people around me were as well. Yes, we are facing so many battles, from our relationships and careers to natural disasters and political violence. This shit is real and my aim isn’t to minimize any of it. But saying ‘Estamos Bien’ in the midst of all the struggle is to say we got us because community love and joy is how we survive and thrive through it all. “
The phrase is so important to her life and the party’s theme that she put it on her cake.
And what a cake that was. Honestly, this cake is giving us some serious FOMO for not being at this party. We can only imagine that this cake was as delicious as it is beautiful.
“The cake was made by Gabriella Lima, of Sweet G Cakez. She’s an amazing local Puerto Rican baker who also happens to be a family friend,” Reichard says. “All I told her was that I wanted it to be tropical Boricua vibes and inspired by the “Estamos Bien” music video, and, somehow, if she could, put Bad Bunny’s face on it.”
Clearly, the cake delivered on everything Reichard was hoping for. Who could be upset at seeing that cake?
Of course, she had to create some kind of imagery expressing her love for Bad Bunny.
We ship it. If you are willing to show someone this much love, you should be able to express that love through fake wedding photos. Reichard says that she has so connected to Bad Bunny’s persona that she seeks to uplift him and Puerto Rico with him.
Oh. She also had a manicure station along with so many other things because Bad Bunny loves to get his nails done.
“I had a manicure station, which included Bettina, a Puerto Rican brand of nail polishes, Bad Bunny nail decal from Cha Cha Nails, acetone that had Benito’s face on it, cotton balls and nail filers, all by a framed photo of Bad Bunny getting his nails done in his “Caro” music video,” Reichard explains. “I had a hookah station, which was a huge hit, and it also had a framed photo of El Conejo Malo smoking from the “I Like It” music video. Throughout the room, I had confetti of his face, including an obviously-edited photo of him embracing me, HA!, some of my favorite lines from his songs and a few of his classic tiny glasses, which folks were able to use for the night and take home.”
Clearly, everyone had a great time celebrating Reichard’s birthday and her love for all things Bad Bunny.
You know it’s a good birthday when people are willing to wear a full costume to celebrate your special day. Happy birthday, Raquel!