Live by the sword, die by the sword. In this case, the mortal blow was delivered by the Puerto Rican social media and felled the puppeteer Kobo Santarrosa and his creation, La Comay.
It is the triumph of the Boricua Winter.
WAPA TV announced Tuesday night the cancellation of SuperXclusivo, the highly popular gossip and news show on which La Comay lived.
According to reports in two of Puerto Rico’s largest newspapers, Santarrosa tendered his resignation because he felt he was being censored.
La Comay, voiced by Santarrosa, started a social media storm in early December when he implied that publicist Jose Enriquez Gomez Saladin, who was savagely murdered, was soliciting the services of a male or female prostitute hours before he was killed, and therefore was the victim of his own undoing.
Santarrosa’s comments were the catalyst that set the island’s social media on fire. This was not the first time that, hiding behind a puppet, he indulged in homophobic, racist and sexist hate speech, with an impunity fueled by high ratings.
But this time it would prove deadly. It ignited “Boicot A La Comay,” a social media movement that took to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to call for a boycott of the program by viewers and sponsors and demanded the cancelation of the program. More than 76,000 people later, Santarrosa proved to be the master of his own downfall.
In less than five weeks, El Nuevo Dia and Primera Hora reported that, according to sources close to the program, the boycott had managed to do what seemed impossible – dethrone La Comay. This was cemented when WAPA TV confirmed Santarrosa’s resignation and the cancellation of a once unbeatable program.
High paying sponsors left in droves and the ratings fell, prompting the management of WAPA TV to order the program to be pre-recorded so it could be edited of controversial content.
According to Puerto Rico’s media outlet Noticel, Santarrosa himself said he resigned because he felt this was censorship.
La Comay’s departure has many in Puerto Rico, an island plagued by violence and a high crime rate, hoping for a better future. “Boicot A La Comay” has given many on the island a powerful voice for change.
“This is the moment that the other media outlets, who for the most part comply with their social function of educating and entertaining, to evaluate the content that they offer to be sure that they do not violate the individual and collective dignity of our country,” Pedro Julio Serrano, activist and one of the leaders of the boycott, said.
Throughout social media, the sentiment has been much the same, one that seems to have unified many on the island.
“It has been too many years already that Kobo Santarrosa has used a doll to say barbarous things, make fun of the defects or the differences of others. Too many years profiting from the lives of others,” said Jabneel Diaz Rivera, a local writer.
“If the management of WAPA cancels the program, I will not only feel satisfied, but more than that, I will feel hope for a different Puerto Rico, for intolerance to intolerance and the end of the abuse through the media by people like Antulio Santarrosa,” she said.
Celebrity make-up artist and activist Karlo Karlo said Boicot a La Comay opened up a new channel for people to express themselves.
"It has been more than that, the people have realized that they can," Karlo Karlo said. "That when we join together, in an effort for peace, for dignity, we are invincible.”
A news source on the island, Metro PR, reported that there are rumors that Santarrosa will take his program to Mega TV, a Spanish-language broadcaster headquartered in the United States.
But, if the Facebook wall of the “Boicot La Comay” page is believed, critics will not be silenced until La Comay is gone for good.
“We are not going to stop until it is clear that La Comay (or any version of her) does not return to any media outlet," says the Facebook post. "A boycott without censorship implies that no sponsor gives their money to La Comay."
Susanne Ramirez de Arellano is a freelance writer based in New York City. She is a former News Director for Univision Puerto Rico and has worked for ABC News, the Associated Press Television News in London and CNN International. She writes a Blog for www.magacin.com called Susanne en la Ciudad.