La Perla ( “The Pearl”) is a historical shanty town established in the late 19th century outside the city walls of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. As the site of a slaughterhouse and cemetery and a catchment for former slaves and homeless servants, La Perla was, by law, established outside of residential communities and business areas.
La Perla’s claims to fame….
Areas to Avoid in San Juan
1. La Perla
Tourists are advised to avoid the area known as “La Perla,” one of San Juan’s most dangerous places. “The Pearl” district in Old San Juan is a slum area where a lot of drug trafficking takes place. Despite recent law enforcement crackdowns, it remains one of the most dangerous places in Puerto Rico. It isn’t difficult to spot, as it is decrepit and quite run-down. (AOL.com 10/4/2010)
Insight Crime, which investigates and analyzes organized crime posted, Puerto Rico Slum Raid Points to Rising Drug Violence,
“A police raid on a notorious slum in Puerto Rico has drawn attention to the increased drug violence in the U.S. territory.
The raid on La Perla slum in the capital city, San Juan, was carried out by U.S. federal agents and local police, and resulted in at least 70 arrests. It was carried out after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) received information that the area was home to a drug gang that was responsible for distributing drug shipments from South America, a DEA agent told the Associated Press.” (Hannah Stone, 7/1/2011)
In the 1970’s, Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon launched La Perla into world view with Calle Luna, Calle Sol. Described by some as ‘gangster salsa’, the song was intertwined with the tragic and tormented life of beloved Hector Lavoe and lives on as part of Puerto Rican culture. Lavoe knew the streets of La Perla well….(English translation)
“Put your hand in your pocket, take out your knife and your keys and be careful, Listen to me, in this neighborhood, many gangsters have been killed
Listen Mister, if you want your life, avoid this neighborhood or you’ll lose it
In a neighborhood of gangsters, you don’t live in peace. Be careful with your words or you’ll be worth nothing.
Your pockets have been ripped out. Since you went to La Perla, they left you broke and beat up…”
Notoriety, danger, fame – “No Go Zones” – are powerful allurements for many seeking excitement and/or drugs. The vastly popular music video, ‘Despacito’ made La Perla a ‘must go’ spot for island culture, excitement and sensuality. With nearly 4 billion views, this music video gave La Perla international spotlight in early 2017, until Maria came and ravished all worldly hopes of fame and prosperity.
Hurricanes Strip but Jesus Covers testifies of God’s presence through the rubble in Puerto Rico. As part of that mission team, my husband met with Pastor Ivan in La Perla. Much of the pastor’s work seemed to wash away with the hurricane, as did the folks who were able to leave the area and the island.
But Pastor Ivan has a vision for La Perla that goes far beyond the notoriety of folk songs and sensational videos. The thoughts and plans of man established a slaughter house and place for social rejects. Man then turned these dangerous dark streets into a sensual allurement.
But when God arrives in the storm, what He builds has eternal value. He turns ‘slaughter houses’ into places of new life, ‘social rejects’ into beloved saints, and brings light and song to ‘dangerous streets’.
By faith we see…
A godly center rise up with a workshop for youths and Bible study for all.
The work begins…
As the Body of Christ teams together under His calling…
Pastors have come and gone from La Perla over the years. One told my husband, “Satan has thick chains around that place.” That man is now part of the building team! We believe that the power of God will break those chains and make “La Perla” a “Shining Star”!
“The Kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field…the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls…”
Pray for the people to find this great ‘treasure’, this ‘pearl of great price’. Please pray for Pastor Ivan. May the Kingdom of God advance with power to break chains of drugs, witchcraft and despair, and exalt the name of Jesus!
Excited about posting Part II, III….and IV!