The latest chapter in Puerto Rico’s post-Hurricane Maria story is that Lin-Manuel Miranda is bringing his smash musical Hamilton to the island. Proceeds would go to the Flamboyan Arts Fund, an organization Miranda cofounded to preserve, amplify and sustain the arts. I’m a fan of Miranda as much as the next guy, having actually gotten to interview him when he was promoting In The Heights back in 2008. It turns out he’s a super down-to-earth-guy. At the risk of generating lots of hate mail, this recent move winds up being a somewhat empty gesture in light of what’s being done to Puerto Rico by Wall Street venture capitalists. Propping up the local arts scene is quite laudable, but the question is with hedge fund billionaires buying up Puerto Rico’s land assets and pricing natives out of their own homes, where are these artists supposed to live while they work on their next creative endeavor?
Now I’m not laying this all at the feet of Miranda, but I feel that wealthy Latinos (more specifically Puerto Ricans), are ignorant of what’s going on through no fault of their own. People flocking to PR to see Hamilton are, in all likelihood, going to be staying at a Marriott or some other American-owned hotel conglomerate—the same places these investors have money sunk into. What ends up happening is that you’re lining the pockets of these carpetbaggers and indirectly accelerating what’s happening to the island. People like Nelson Denis (author of War Against All Puerto Ricans) and journalist/activist Felipe Luciano understand this better than most and can explain it in terms everyone can understand.
What should be done is to have all these fundraising efforts directed towards a fund to buy up property, the way these hedge fund conglomerates are doing, and then sell it back to the natives or people with direct connections to Puerto Rico. People smarter and with a higher pay grade than me can figure out the details far better than I can. I just know if you own the store, you’re the one who gets to price the goods.
—Dave Gil de Rubio
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