“Despacito” made this neighborhood famous, but Hurricane Maria ravaged it

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico —  Two months after Hurricane Maria, half of Puerto Rico is still without power and more than 1,300 people are in shelters.

You may recognize the low-income neighborhood, La Perla — Spanish for “the pearl” — from a viral music video.

La Perla may seem like any other Puerto Rican neighborhood ravaged by Hurricane Maria — except for one thing: The video for Luis Fonsi’s smash hit song “Despacito” was shot here. 

In only 11 months, it has been viewed over 4 billion times, making it the most popular music video of all time.

begnaud-despacito-4-2017-11-23.jpg

The neighborhood La Perla was made famous by “Despacito.” 

CBS News

La Perla, the slightly seedy barrio right below old San Juan, suddenly became a star. But when Maria made landfall, fame offered no shelter.

“We don’t have any water,” Gabriel Lamastus said. “We don’t have any power.”

Lamastus runs a youth boxing program in La Perla.

begnaud-despacito-3-2017-11-23.jpg

Despacito was filmed in the La Perla neighborhood of San Juan, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria. 

CBS News

“There’s nobody you can tell to get out of here — they have survived all of the hurricanes since they’ve been alive,” Lamastus said. “How do you tell them to leave their house?”

The storm blasted Luis Santiago’s house into a jumble of sticks and stones. 

“This is the side of the house,” he said. 

begnaud-despacito-2-2017-11-23.jpg

  Luis Santiago has lived in La Perla for over 30 years.

CBS News

He was born in Brooklyn, but La Perla has been home for 30 years. 

He says “of course” he wants to rebuild — “right by the ocean, this is the spot I like.”

But re-building in La Perla may be tougher than elsewhere. Many in the government view the neighborhood as a crime-filed slum, too close to top tourist attractions. And developers have long eyed the seaside location as a potential resort. 

begnaud-despacito-2017-11-23.jpg

Children along the shoreline in La Perla, San Juan.

CBS News

So Lamastus says the residents don’t expect to get much help.

“The community is on their own,” Lamastus said. “I’m not on my own, we are on our own. We stick together, but it’s rough. Its not easy.”

In Spanish, despacito means “slowly.” In the song, it’s about love, but in La Perla, it’s about healing.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Related Posts

Supreme Court to rule on Trump travel ban

Comments Off on Supreme Court to rule on Trump travel ban

School holds prayer vigil for teen who died from flu

Comments Off on School holds prayer vigil for teen who died from flu

Turnout key in too-close-to-call Alabama Senate race

Comments Off on Turnout key in too-close-to-call Alabama Senate race

Police beating case shows body camera use shortcomings

Comments Off on Police beating case shows body camera use shortcomings

Netflix deal will give Obamas a global platform in the Trump era

Comments Off on Netflix deal will give Obamas a global platform in the Trump era

Correction: Trump’s Pick for CIA Director Did Not Oversee Torture of Abu Zubaydah

Comments Off on Correction: Trump’s Pick for CIA Director Did Not Oversee Torture of Abu Zubaydah

Report: Chiefs trade QB Alex Smith to Washington in surprise deal

Comments Off on Report: Chiefs trade QB Alex Smith to Washington in surprise deal

Inspector general urges criminal investigation of McCabe

Comments Off on Inspector general urges criminal investigation of McCabe

WATCH: Skip College to Become an Apprentice? Vin Speaks with Founder of Praxis

Comments Off on WATCH: Skip College to Become an Apprentice? Vin Speaks with Founder of Praxis

SpaceX Falcon 9 launches seven satellites

Comments Off on SpaceX Falcon 9 launches seven satellites

Illinois Police Just Claimed if Marijuana is Legalized, They’ll Have to Kill Their Police Dogs

Comments Off on Illinois Police Just Claimed if Marijuana is Legalized, They’ll Have to Kill Their Police Dogs

Create Account



Log In Your Account