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“Calma pueblo, que aquí estoy yo.” “Relax people, that here I am” thus proclaims Rene Perez Joglar, better known as Residente. The Puerto Rican performer has turned the “social justice” left-wing agenda into a very successful business model, mixing rhythms, political sentimentality, and well-crafted rhymes. In his records, over and over again, he emphasizes his lower-middle-class roots, extols poverty, and echoes the clichés of the Latin American left in order to sell hearty beats to the bleeding hearts.
Of course, as any good leftist “influencer,” when he speaks about the United States, Residente lavishes insults, defining the country as “racist” and affirming that “it is far behind…in many aspects”. However, when the time came to buy his new residence, he did not acquire it in a popular Caracas neighborhood or a Mapuche commune, but in a colony of rich white people in the very American California.
Write rhymes about the poor, get the mansion of a millionaire
His new casita is far from the reality of that “pueblo” that he claims to represent. It costs a whopping 5.8 million dollars, which is 10 times the average house price in California and about 20 times the national mean. And every penny of it translates into luxuries because the “residence” includes seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, two dining rooms, a jacuzzi, and “a huge garage for several cars.”
Of course, Mr. millonario needs to be comfortable, especially after he signed a new contract with Sony, to build “project 1868” and create “culturally misrepresented content in different formats“.
By now, you’re likely thinking: “Why the criticism? It’s his money, and he’s an artist who does business by singing, not a politician.”
I’m sorry, but that’s not true. Resident is a politician because he does business (sorry, “art”) by systematically using a leftist discourse that helps him market concerts and records focused on young people who want to feel like revolutionaries with a drink of Zacapa in hand. He made millions by selling speeches denouncing the greed of capitalists and imperialists, yet he can’t keep it real. Seemingly, he doesn’t want to live anywhere near the “pueblo” to whom he asks for money on Ticketmaster.
Sometimes the profit is too obvious, like in 2014 when Rene’s T-shirt “denouncing” the Ayotzinapa massacre appeared on sale for $250 pesos outside his concert at the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City. Faced with the scandal, Calle 13 dissociated itself from the shirts, accused the company Live Shows Merchandising of selling them without the band’s consent, and even threatened legal action. However, even as of 2018, that same company was still selling “official” Resident merchandise. So, probably René and his band were not that incensed about it.
That being said, he’s usually more subtle, but he sells politics anyway. He acts as a spokesman of the leftist narrative in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. He even supported the “cleanliness” of Venezuela’s elections (before pivoting to a lament about violence and then an almost absolute silence on Twitter for the last five years, once the Maduro government became so unjustifiable that Residente could no longer play nice with both sides). And don’t even get me started about his lyrics.
Let’s be clear; you’re not a justiciero. You’re in the public relations business. You are a merchant who sells prepackaged rebellion for the consumption of the bored & “woke” middle and upper classes, which feed on your messages at the service of the left; that same left that once and again condemns your “beloved” Latin America to poverty.
There is no need for cátedras, dear Rene, just a couple of thoughts:
- You profess to believe that “the one who works more than the other deserves to earn more”. Do you really think that “you work more” than 99.9% of the world’s population? If not, a righteous social warrior like you should not tolerate the insult of spending nearly $6 million on a mansion while the poor continue to dance in misery. After all, in your own words, “You don’t need money to dance.” or wasn’t it?
In short: “But what are you doing, my friend? If you are such a millionaire, I invite you to donate your money away”. You said it. Keep it real.
- You brag that “my record company is not Sony, my record company is the people”, but you keep signing contracts with Sony, and it seems that you are doing well enough to get yourself a multimillionaire’s home. So, just out of curiosity, from which one of the seven bathrooms or the two luxury dining rooms will you continue to sing: “relax people, that here I am… because I am like you, you are like me”.
To summarize, in Adentro you stated that “my credit is screwed, they won’t even sell me a coffee”, and you justified yourself by stating that “before I understood the inequalities between people, I bought a used Maserati that now doesn’t work”. However, now that you already understand the inequalities between people, you got an almost 6 million dollar mansion instead of living like the poor you “represent.” And the Maserati, Residente? I suppose that you still have it adentro, inside that huge garage you got singing “calma pueblo”. Enjoy.
Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”