“Music brings people together—it unites people, and you can bring your message across through music a lot better. I think it’s our duty to have a voice, have an opinion and give back,” global superstar Luis Fonsi, whose smash hit “Despacito” memorably reached meteoric heights in 2017, recently told ONE37pm in Puerto Rico.
By the end of August 2017, no one was having a better year than Fonsi: “Despacito,” featuring Daddy Yankee was the most-watched video in YouTube history at the time, the song had already spent more than three months atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart with a nice push from the “Despacito” remix featuring Justin Bieber and Fonsi’s home of Puerto Rico was attracting nearly 170,000 non-residents to the island that August. Less than a month later, Hurricane Maria made landfall, crippling the island and changing Fonsi’s foreseeable future.
“I’m the ambassador of tourism for Puerto Rico, and we were shooting all of these commercials saying, ‘Hey come visit us.’ Then, all of a sudden, it became ‘Come help us.’ So, the message of that campaign changed quite drastically to ‘Come visit us, but come help,’” Fonsi said.
More than 2,900 people died as a result of the hurricane, which caused $90 billion worth of damages. Thousands are still living under blue tarps because their homes have yet to be fixed. ONE37pm traveled to Puerto Rico in November 2019, two years after Hurricane Maria devastated the area, to chat with Fonsi before he spoke at the Marriott #LoveTravels Beyond Barriers Summit at The St. Regis Bahia Beach about how the Latin music explosion helped give visibility to this island’s tragedy, how music has helped its recovery and how the most devastating natural disaster to hit Puerto Rico ended up being a wake-up call for the residents of the island.