SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CBS NEWS) — 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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