Ricky Martin’s efforts to help his native Puerto Rico after the devastation brought by Hurricane Maria were recognized this past Saturday at 2017’s iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina. The singer received the Corazón Latino Award for his humanitarian work on the island and for battling human trafficking over the years.
At the mega concert, the “Vente Pa’Ca” singer performed alongside also Luis Fonsi, Camila Cabello and Mexican duo Jesse & Joy.
Minutes before Martin received the award, he caught up with PEOPLE CHICA backstage and expressed his gratitude to those who’ve dedicated around-the-clock care to the victims of the natural disaster.
“This award is not for me,” he said, “I dedicate it to those who I believe are the are real stars: to all those volunteers that have worked so hard, to all those people who have come to the light. They are the real heroes that nobody knew. Since the hurricane, they have been present and have worked hard 24 hours a day to bring comfort and hope to the victims. We will continue this fight.”
Martin affirmed his pledge to the cause, adding that there’s still a lot of work to do in the ravaged U.S. territory. “This is a commitment for many years to come, because, unfortunately, we were hit very hard,” he said. “We have had the opportunity to create great alliances with big corporations that have helped to bring aid to the victims of the hurricane. With FedEx alone, we took a plane with 150,000 pounds of necessities to Puerto Rico and have taken three or four planes like it since.”
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He told PEOPLE CHICA that connecting with his people after the tragedy was both rewarding and heartbreaking. “Being with the victims was very difficult because that’s when you realize how serious the situation is,” he said, “Unfortunately, the images we see on the news don’t do justice to the reality of what has happened in Puerto Rico. It’s been over 40 days after the hurricane and still a majority of the island is without power and water. There are a lot of people without food, without medicine,” he emphasized. “Many hospitals are still working with generators, but there is no diesel fuel for them. It has been social chaos and that is very difficult to accept, but we have to pull up our sleeves and get to work,” he urged, “That’s every citizen’s duty right now.”