On September 16th, Bad Bunny released the new music video for his song “El Apagón.” The song is a chaotic, fun tune that expresses how proud he feels to be Puerto Rican. You would expect a song like this to have a similar party vibe in its music video, which it did (in the first 3 minutes), but then it turned into a news coverage exposing the struggles of the residents of the island.
About halfway into the song, there was a pause followed by a short commentary on the incompetence of LUMA Energy. LUMA energy is the power company responsible for power transmission on the island. The American and Canadian company started operating on Puerto Rico in June 2021 with the promise to restore the power instability on the island. It is common knowledge that Puerto Rico has problems with its power infrastructure, especially after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. However, since the arrival of this company, the power outages and blackouts have been constant and can go up to days without being fixed (and this is without the occurrence of a natural disaster). As someone who’s lived in Puerto Rico my whole life, I can attest that the power outages have gotten worse over the years. I remember completing my homework by the light from battery powered lanterns and having to drive down streets without working traffic lights that could go weeks without being fixed. This is a problem that causes frustration and anger, especially when the first areas to be reenergized are always the more wealthy and touristy spots.
After the song ends, we are left with 17 minutes in the video in which a number of issues are discussed. The first one being the exploitation of Act 22.
What is Act 22?
Act 22 is a law, called the Individual Investors Act, which basically states that high net worth investors that officially reside in Puerto Rico, don’t have to pay income taxes.
Sounds a little unfair, right? Well, that’s exactly what Bad Bunny tried to get across in the next segment of the video. After the song ends, the video shifts to a lady explaining how she was given a notice to leave her home in the next 30 days. This was because a new owner had bought the building and was now charging 4 times the price of rent. The same thing happened to two more residents in the area, and they went on to explain how heartbreaking it was to be forced to leave your community and to see the place you grew up in be completely changed. It’s unbelievable how the government actually aids these investors and provides no help for the people who’ve had to abandon their homes.
By law, every beach in Puerto Rico must have public access.
The next problem the video discusses is the privatization of Puerto Rico’s beaches. By law, Puerto Rico’s beaches are public and should have multiple ways of access. However, in Dorado, which is a town to the north of the island, this access is being obstructed. The interviewer in the video made a trip to Dorado where she interviewed a resident who cleans houses by Dorado Beach. She explained to the interviewer how the access to West Beach has been obstructed by construction and the only way to get there is by walking along the shore. They then proceeded to walk 1.3 miles towards this specific beach but they could not continue, since the path was full of rocks and could potentially be dangerous. Therefore, this technically makes West Beach a private beach since the only people that can safely access it are the people who live in the beachfront houses, which are currently priced at $18 million (so yeah, not accessible at all). I find this so disheartening since the beaches in Puerto Rico are the greatest national resource on the island. Preventing access to people who literally live on the island is completely unfair and just upsetting.
The gentrification happening in Puerto Rico has to stop. Puerto Rico is not “free real estate”— it is home to 3.1 million people who deserve to have access to every single part of the island they were born and raised in. These issues are not only to blame on the investors but also on the government who allows this to happen. I hope that this music video reaches their screens so they are aware of the insane amount of damage they are causing to the community.
I’m so thankful that Bad Bunny chose to accurately represent the problems on the island, and more so that he dedicated an entire video to it. I think it’s so common to hear celebrities’ thoughts on social issues, but to never see them take any action. This is the perfect example of how to use your influence for good and it’s definitely something we need more of. So, whenever you hear that an influencer is moving to Puerto Rico (yes, I’m looking at you Logan Paul), think about the damage it actually causes.