SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hope had come in with a song for La Perla, a seaside slum that had long been notorious as a violent enclave that served as Puerto Rico’s biggest distribution point for heroin.
Tourists had been drawn to streets lined with brightly painted homes because they were the setting for the video of the hit song “Despacito,” creating a budding revival of the little neighborhood.
Then Hurricane Maria hit, ripping away power lines, water service, rooftops and even the newly installed banners that directed tourists to spots shown in the famed video. And the tourists suddenly vanished.
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