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Activists Bring Down Puerto Rico’s Highest-Rated Show

After weeks of intense pressure and a relentless social media campaign, the TV personality behind one of Puerto Rico’s most popular TV shows has stepped down from the program.

Antulio “Kobbo” Santarrosa, the star of Super Xclusivo, walked off the show’s set with co-host Hector Travieso just before its Jan. 8 edition, a spokesperson for WAPA-TV confirmed.

Santarrosa left after WAPA institued new guidelines to manage the show’s content, including pre-recording and editing of the program prior to its 6 p.m. broadcast. In addition to the San Juan, P.R., station WAPA, Super Xclusivo aired in the U.S. on cable channel WAPA America. 

Santarrosa, under the persona of a 5-foot-tall puppet known as "La Comay," came under fire early December, when he suggested that murdered publicist José Enrique Gomez Saladín was responsible for his own death because of he “allegedly and apparently” solicited sexual favors in the streets of Puerto Rico and despitee of his marital status.

Gomez Saladin had been brutally beaten and burned after he was kidnapped in an area known for prostitution.

The comments kick-started a social media campaign known as “Boycott La Comay,” which spread quickly and cost the station hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad revenue from such clients as Walmart and AT&T. Calls for a boycott were supported by Hispanic media organizations including the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) in late December.

"We had no plans to fire Kobo, but we always knew at some point he'd retire, so the station has been preparing for other alternatives for a while," a WAPA-TV spokesperson told Hispanic TV Update this week, adding only that details would be announced “sooner rather than later. Santarosa’s contract was set to expire in March.

In its official statement, WAPA-TV said: "Kobbo Santarosa has resigned from SuperXclusivo. Despite both parties having reached agreements regarding production of the show that would allow it to continue, Mr. Santarosa walked out Tuesday shortly before his show was scheduled to tape. He made this decision on his own without consulting WAPA management. We sincerely regret any inconvenience or disruption that this has caused to our loyal viewers. We are grateful for the 14 years that Mr. Santarosa has been part of the WAPA family and we have supported Mr. Santarosa throughout his entire time with WAPA.”