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‘We Feel Forgotten’: In Storm-Battered Home Of Musical Hit, Help Comes ‘Despacito’

Residents set adult signs seeking for assistance in a basketball justice of La Perla area in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria’s destruction. La Perla is where a “Despacito” video was filmed.

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Residents set adult signs seeking for assistance in a basketball justice of La Perla area in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria’s destruction. La Perla is where a “Despacito” video was filmed.

Angel Valentin for NPR

Residents of La Perla are still watchful for help.

The notoriously dangerous barrio of candy colored homes is bordered by a Caribbean on one side and a ancient city walls of Old San Juan on a other.

As in a rest of Puerto Rico, people here sojourn though electricity or entrance to purify celebration water, food and supplies, scarcely dual weeks after Hurricane Maria.

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Desperate residents have embellished messages on plywood boards: “S.O.S., we need help. Water, provisions. Don’t desert us. Despacito.”

That’s a anxiety to this summer’s strike reggaeton song, “Despacito” by Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee. The song’s video was filmed in La Perla. With a record-breaking scarcely 4 billion views on YouTube, it has brought a new kind of celebrity to a area that had been famous for drugs and violence.

Residents indicate with honour to a travel dilemma where Fonsi and Daddy Yankee sang in a video, surrounded by area kids. Over here they danced and played dominoes. And over there, moist former Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera sauntered around a neighborhood.

With a success of “Despacito,” there were good hopes that this long-neglected barrio competence spin a corner. One La Perla resident, Carmen Lourdes Lopez, says this summer she gave “Despacito” tours to extraordinary tourists from as distant as China and California.

Carmen Lourdes Lopez, 58, walks in a La Perla neighborhood. Over a summer, she was giving “Despacito” tours to people visiting Puerto Rico.

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Carmen Lourdes Lopez, 58, walks in a La Perla neighborhood. Over a summer, she was giving “Despacito” tours to people visiting Puerto Rico.

Angel Valentin for NPR

Then a hurricanes hit. First Irma, afterwards Maria.

Many houses in a area flooded, and a few collapsed completely, withdrawal people homeless and sleeping in a ruins.

“We feel forgotten,” says Lopez.

So distant assistance has been piecemeal. On Sunday, Robbie Alomar, a ball Hall of Famer who grew adult in Puerto Rico, rolled by a area handing out H2O bottles, canned food and T-shirts.

“I only wanna move fun behind to a people here,” he said.

Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto “Robbie” Alomar hugs proprietor Angela Magaña after delivering assist in La Perla. Alomar grew adult in Puerto Rico.

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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz was here one night, handing out tiny solar-powered lamps. A few Baltimore military officers and a pleasantly neighbor from a National Park Service brought water.

But La Perla is still watchful for a supervision to step in.

Helicopters and planes bark overhead, presumably carrying supplies. But people in La Perla don’t know when or if they’ll accept them. They’ve been cleaning adult a waste themselves and assisting any other.

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Next to a concrete skateboard park embellished with graffiti murals, Yentil Ramirez, 26, sighs. “La Perla has a bad repute of being an underworld basement of drug dealers and criminals,” she says. “But that’s not true. We are like family. We assistance any other.”

“The area is demolished,” says Angela Magaña, a UFC warrior who lives in La Perla with her beloved and their 3 children. Her neighbors’ homes collapsed, and many of them are sleeping during her residence now.

Skateboarders use an dull fish play in La Perla.

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Skateboarders use an dull fish play in La Perla.

Angel Valentin for NPR

“They have no other shelter. We need these houses rebuilt,” she says.

Magaña had designed to open a fighting gym in La Perla, though now she’s lifting income to assistance her neighbors. She was unknowingly President Trump was entrance to Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

“We’re totally cut off,” she says. “I had no idea. What is he perplexing to do here?”

Magaña and her neighbors contend they don’t trust Trump. They worry that instead of being rebuilt, La Perla could get incited into oppulance beachfront property.

Lopez says that assistance has been waste given a charge hit. “We feel forgotten,” she says.

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Lopez says that assistance has been waste given a charge hit. “We feel forgotten,” she says.

Angel Valentin for NPR

People here are still watchful to find out what’s subsequent for them.

“Help is entrance small by little,” says Gabi Lopez, who’s lived here all his life: “Despacito.”

In English, that means “slowly.”

“Despacito” could only be a thesis strain for Puerto Rico’s recovery.

Lauren Migaki contributed to this report.

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