Puerto Rico’s SanSe Festival Is Still On Despite Artists’ Safety Concerns

Lead Photo: Photo by TexPhoto / E+
Photo by TexPhoto / E+
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Following a series of devastating earthquakes and ongoing aftershocks in Puerto Rico, the mayor of San Juan is determined for business to go on as usual — and that includes this year’s San Sebastián Street Festival, or SanSe 2020.

The Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián are a series of beloved celebrations that take place in Old San Juan each year; think, Puerto Rico’s version of Mardi Gras, chock full of dancing, food, artisan’s selling their wares and of course, musical performances. But with the island still very much struggling in the aftermath of disaster, many were unsure if the festival would carry on as planned. On January 14, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz confirmed that, yes, the show must go on — though some artists are not too happy about it.

In the days following Puerto Rico’s quakes, acts like La Sonora Ponceña and Johnny Ventura pulled out of their scheduled SanSe performances. Another group, Plenéalo, also took to social media to confirm that “Plenéalo will not participate in SanSe, even while it appears on the calendar of activities.” These artists, among others, cite the current situation on the island as their reason for cancelation. And they’re not off base: Puerto Rican governor Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency on January 7, and many on the island remain without power and other necessary resources.

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Yet the island’s Mayor is not feeling sensitive to these artists’ complaints. According to El Nuevo Día, Cruz said, “quien no está no hace falta,” suggesting a sense of who needs them, anyway! 

However, Cruz did try to appeal to Dominican legend Johnny Ventura. El Nuevo Día purports that Cruz felt his absence was especially unjustified and has sent him a letter in hopes that he reconsider. “Give something back to the people when they need it,” she said. “I’m sure that reason will prevail.”

Meanwhile, plenty of other artists are still slated to appear. El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico will perform at the festival for the first time on Sunday, January 19 in Plaza del Quinto Centenario. And artists like Kany Garcia, Lucecita Benítez, Olga Tañón, Ednita Nazario, Yolandita Monte, Manny Manuel, Lim-T-21, Ile, José Feliciano, Glenn Monroig, Lissette, Vico C, Buscabulla, Mima and the Pleneros de la Cresta, will also perform throughout the course of the weekend. As for bigshots like Daddy Yankee? He’ll probably still be spearheading his own relief project, which you can learn more about here.