Op-Ed: Bad Bunny Wants You to Want More From Your Government

Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla

Bad Bunny has taken to Twitter to dismantle capitalism and call out government corruption—well, basically. In two concise missives, Benito practically called for a poor and working-class revolution.

Around 1 p.m. on Wednesday, he tweeted:

Some responses pointed to privilege: “Entitled much? For you it’s nothing, of course. But there are people who need it,” wrote one user. Their tweet had the air of “at least the government is giving us something” perspective.

And while they’re right: For people out of work and low on resources especially, that money could be what saves them from eviction, what keeps them fed, what keeps their water on, or even their means of refilling a necessary prescription. More than 22 million people have filed for unemployment in the U.S. in the past four weeks.

In Bad Bunny’s native Puerto Rico, a persistent economic recession has surged the poverty rate to nearly 50 percent. Meanwhile, the cost of living on the island has soared. Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and local and federal failures to help Puerto Ricans best recover made the situation worse. The 6.4 magnitude earthquake in January set back folks at best, and at worst, destroyed their homes. There are people still living in tents. There are homes that haven’t had water in almost three years.

Within 20 minutes, Bad Bunny followed up with a clarifying post: Of course the $1,200 will make people happy, but don’t forget that they steal more than that from you. Do not be satisfied or give Trump or the government thanks. Take the $1,200 but angrily!!! They owe you more than that!!”

Between “Benito for President” and concurring tweets, there were other posts pointing to Benito’s newfound wealth. “Open ur purse,” one person tweeted. Another person said “this is kind of communist.

Do we want our celebrities ignoring the reality of things because it doesn’t affect them personally?

Benito’s history as a political activist so far has always been pro-people, pro-working class. He wasn’t born rich: We all know that before he was famous he worked as a grocery store bagger in his hometown.

It’s true he lives atop a golden pillar now, comfortably moneyed. But does that mean he has no right to speak on behalf of the working class?

He and Cardi B have this in common: Humble beginnings, a rapid rise to celebrity and subsequent wealth and a continued allegiance to those who haven’t experienced the same fortune.

Photo courtesy of Rimas Entertainment
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Do we want our celebrities ignoring the reality of things because it doesn’t affect them personally? (And they are not so far removed from it—sales aside, both Benito and Cardi B repeatedly note having working-class friends and family.) Or would we rather they champion us, the 99 percent, with their platforms of major influence?

Bad Bunny isn’t so much telling us what to do in his tweets but, rather, offering tools for thinking about our rights beneath governments full of people who do not suffer oppressions in the same way as us. As in Puerto Rico and in the U.S., corruption is a legitimate problem—and who gets the short end of the stick? The people do, of course.

This isn’t the place to give you a full lesson on the history of political corruption in the U.S. and Puerto Rico—you can bone up online, anytime. But let’s consider just a couple recent events during the coronavirus pandemic that might get you thinking.

In Puerto Rico. a $38 million contract for testing kits never arrived. What happened? And why are there so few press conferences—opportunities to ask these very questions, pressure for more testing, and more—from Governor Wanda Vázquez? Instead, the government has opted for televised broadcasts that are closed to everyone except employees of the public access channel that airs them. A group protested there yesterday—a caravan of cars, including one bearing a sign that read, “Cancel the debt, protect the people. We won’t forget the deaths of [Hurricane] Maria that you hid from us.”

In the U.S., Trump has suspended funding to the World Health Organization for an announced 60 to 90 days. As discussed by Bernie Sanders on Cardi B’s Instagram live, about a month ago, the media reported that Trump wanted an exclusive vaccine deal—thus creating a monopoly on a potentially life-saving medicine—with a German pharmaceutical company. (That was shut down, thankfully.)

Where does Puerto Rico and the U.S. get the money for any of the aforementioned purchases or cutbacks or attempts at excluding the rest of the world from a Covid-19 vaccine?

They get the money from us, the taxpayers.

So when Benito says the government owes us much more, he’s not only referring to money: He’s talking about healthcare, food, a place to live, financial help, and more. After all, the money these governments have was ours to begin with.