Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Peru: Racism at the Beach

racism at beach

They say that to work is no offence, that there is no job that one should be ashamed of. It sounds logical, but not everyone seems to think that way. Many Peruvians, some think too many, leave their motherland to look for a better job opportunity abroad, where they often end up working jobs that not even in their worse nightmares had they done here. Perhaps the fact that no one they know is witness to their suffering lessens the embarrassment and loss of self-esteem that comes from working a job below someone's abilities. But it is not necessary to leave the country to work in discriminatory and marginalized conditions.

In Lima and the nearby beach resorts it is summer. Many years ago, up until the Sixties, the fashionable beaches were those of Miraflores, Barranco and Chorrillos as well as the more distant beaches of Ancón. Today, for what has already been a good number of summers, the hotspot beaches are to the south. Among the great many beaches along the coast to the south of the capital, the favorite of wealthy Limeans is called “Asia,” and is often pronounced in English by those who spend their summers there. This resort has been made famous for offering the very best to its exclusive clientele. In fact, the beach has transformed into a small city with all the offerings of modernity and globalization, out of sight from the town that also used to spend the summer there.

But recently, Asia has also become well-known for its discriminatory and marginalizing treatment towards the “domestic employees” or “household employees” as they are generally called among the families who employ them. These workers, for example, are effectively prohibited from entering the beach during the day. Only after 6 p.m. are they allowed to enter these areas. Obviously many consider this unjust and that it boils down to an undeniable issue of racism.

Therefore, The Office Against Racism of the National Coordinator of Human rights, composed of diverse institutions and individuals, have formed a weblog to publicize an operation called “Audacious Employee” in which a group of people dressed like maids peacefully enter one of the off-limit beaches during the day and bathe in them. More information is available in this post: Questions and answers about Operation Audacious Employee. The mentioned operation successfully took place last Sunday, complete with videos and photos. There was also repercussion from the operation in the press.

As it could not be any other way, several bloggers echoed the subject and posted about the operation both before and after it happened:

La Perra de mi Vecina… ladra muchoOperativo “Empleada Audaz”
Diseño PerúCartel a propósito del operativo “Empleada Audaz”
ZonadenoticiasUn operativo audaz
Luna antagonica: Entre cables, sueños, cemento y pielOperativo empleada audaz contra gamonalismo reload Versión 2007 3.14
PeruanistaVideo: Trabajadora del Hogar
Pospost“Empleada audaz” cambió rostro a playas de Asia y Una observación fraterna sobre el tema de Asia
El blog del morsaempleada audaz. historia tras bambalinas
El Sitio de Kinua – Kinua's SiteVideo: Operativo Empleada audaz
Des-ubicadasEmpleada Audaz fue un exito!!!
Mi otro blogEmpleada Audaz
Desde el Tercer PisoEmpleada audaz
El Útero de MaritaVídeo del Operativo Empleada Audaz
Pueblo VrutoOperativo PATRÓN AUDAZ
Gran Combo ClubDerecha vruta

But this is not the only protest that has occurred recently in Lima. Another took place in Lima's Plaza de Armas against the president's plan to restore capital punishment for certain crimes. Posts about the protest include: “Only Death can enter the [Presidential] Palace? [ES]“, “Only Death could enter the Palace [ES]” and “Protest against Death: Latest Reflections [ES].” Regarding bloggers and other details, Gran Combo Club posted “Successful Protest in the Plaza de Armas” and “Successful Protest in the Plaza de Armas (2).”

Well, as you can see, the year seems to have begun with a lot of citizens here in Lima organizing protests using online resources here in Lima. Gabriel Rodriguez of Peru Design, is the photographer of the image that accompanies this post.

Translated from Spanish by David Sasaki

33 comments

  • […] la playa racista de Lima 0 comentarios Fecha: Febrero, 1, 2007 Autor: CalheR Tema: Sociedad América Latina Hay una playa enLima que se llama Asia. Es la playa del glamour, de la gente guay, donde ir a ver cuerpos bronceados y gente limpia y guapa. Una playa que se ha convertido en un lugar para ricos, para gente selecta que encuentra allí lo último en modernidad y servicios. Tan limpia y tan glamourosa es que, durante todas las horas del día, no dejan entrar a “empleadas del hogar” porque estropean el ambiente. Fijaros en el cartel: […]

  • jorge

    Punto de vista: Expropiemos las gallinas

    “Lo que me parece inadecuado es que se focalice la protesta en una zona de la ciudad, cuando este tipo de abusos es común en todas partes”

    Por Rolando Arellano, Doctor en márketing*

    En una reunión de campesinos un dirigente pidió expropiar los tractores para ponerlos al servicio común. La gente votó de manera casi unánime para que así fuera. Luego propuso expropiar también las vacas, y la mayoría votó a favor de esa medida. Finalmente el dirigente, entusiasmado, pidió expropiar las gallinas, pero vio con sorpresa que todos se opusieron. ¿La razón? Que casi nadie tenía tractores, solo algunos tenían vacas, pero ¡todos tenían gallinas! La operación Empleada Audaz, llevada a cabo en el balneario de Asia el pasado fin de semana, me hizo recordar esta anécdota.

    Debo señalar primero que concuerdo con el objetivo de luchar contra el racismo en nuestro país, aunque insisto, como lo he dicho en otros artículos, que más que racismo puro, en el Perú existe discriminación económica, que ‘cholea’ al pobre y ‘blanquea’ al rico. Me parece, además, conveniente que exista un movimiento para mostrar que el servicio doméstico es un trabajo que no implica per se un estatus social menor a cualquier otro oficio. Creo, también, que es muy importante penalizar cualquier tipo de discriminación, como la de impedir que alguien utilice bienes sociales o comunes –playa, iglesia o discoteca– en razón de su aspecto o su oficio. Lo que me parece inadecuado es que se focalice esta protesta en una zona específica de la ciudad, cuando ese tipo de abusos es muy común en todas partes.

    Así, sería mucho más sano y eficiente para la causa del servicio doméstico que se plantee una actividad que toque a muchas de las casi 200 mil familias limeñas –de todos los niveles sociales– que tienen empleadas y que, consciente o inconscientemente, las explotan, menosprecian o degradan.

    Me hubiera gustado, por ejemplo, que propusieran que en todos los hogares se les dé un horario de trabajo aceptable, que reciban un sueldo decoroso y adecuado a su esfuerzo, o que dispongan de tiempo libre para realizar estudios. Más aun, aunque no estoy seguro de su efecto práctico, hubieran llamado la atención mediática si plantearan que el uso de uniforme les sea un elemento discrecional. En lugar de ello, prefirieron ir a Asia a pedir que se les permita bañarse en el mar, probablemente sin preguntarles si eso les parecía una reivindicación importante, dejando entrever quizá que el maltrato es solo un problema de ricos, y que no importa por ejemplo que en Lince, Miraflores o Comas se les pague menos del sueldo mínimo por 80 horas de trabajo a la semana.

    En fin, apruebo toda manifestación contra el maltrato a las personas, pero sabiendo que el problema rebasa largamente a las dos mil familias del balneario, el ver activistas protestando allí por ese tema me parece una falta de sentido práctico. A menos que su protesta en Asia tenga más que ver con el hecho de que muchos tienen ‘gallinas’, pero es más fácil ‘expropiar’ las ‘vacas’ de los pocos que las tienen en el sur de Lima.

    *CENTRUM CATÓLICA / ARELLANO MÁRKETING, INVESTIGACIÓN Y CONSULTORÍA

  • juan jordan

    Este ejemplo de descriminacion social es una cara fea que la “suciedad” limena “blanca” condona como virtud. Obviamente si tu hablaras con la mayoria de los propietarios de casa en Asia ellos formalmente negarian cualquier asociacion con ser racistas, pero privadamente lo celebran. En otras palabras “hipocritas”. Ellos tiene una mente cerrada y podrida con la infeccion de la legacia espanola. Los pobres bastardos no saben que son el fruto de una mezcla y no un producto “blanco” como ellos quisiera serlos. Viven una fantasia, un mundo corrupto en su propia mente. Alejados del sufrimiento moral y economico que su nacion sufre. Pobres todos aquelllos, que no lo saben o no lo pueden entender!

  • isabel

    everyone is missing the point it doesn’t matter what time household cleaners work or how uncomfortabel it might be to be at the beach with and employee but that they have that right! they have the right to go to the beach if they want and nobody can tell them different becuase if they are so bigoted and blided themselves to put that sign there then they are genuine idiots (capatalized)!

  • Laura

    The sign doesn’t exist. It was used for the protest but it actually doesn’t exist, it was an artist creation to make a point.

    I think it is difficult for people who don’t live here to understand what we wanted to do with the protest. Maids work AT the beach. The houses are right there and they usually have to be taking care of the children of the owners of the houses at the beach; although they cannot wear swimming suits or just swim with the kids. They have to wear uncomfortable uniforms (believe me, they are very uncomfortable… we couldn’t stand wearing them for the three hours the protest lasted) and cannot swim, not even during lunch time when they can take a break (if they actually can).

    As some said it is very complicated here. It is not only racism but also ethnic and class issues that play together.

    And, yes, it happens (unfortunately) all over Latin America.

    What we wanted was to put this subject on the agenda and, thank God, we did. People talked about it and the issue was discussed. It doesn’t mean that it will dissapear, but at least it is talked about.

    You can read my personal experience at http://hypatiadaughter.blogspot.com/2007/01/smart-maid.html

  • Gracias Laura por hacer esa aclaración que la verdad se me había pasado.

    Laura: thanks for pointing at that, i had forgot to do it.

  • Jurgen

    I’ve been in Lima many times and seen this exact thing happen in other aspects of daily life. But I’ve also noticed that its not a white vs Inca thing since there are not many white people in Peru.
    It’s more a have vs have-not thing.
    Let’s be real, in Peru there are Indians, different shades of mestizos, and half a dozen white people. That is why they make maids ware does stupid uniforms, so that the lady of the house doesn’t get taken for a maid.

  • […] A previous summary of the Peruvian blogosphere, dedicated almost entirely to “Operation Audacious Employee,” generated several interesting comments which highlighted certain points that were not very clear or that caused legitimate confusion to people who are not familiar with Peruvian society. To add one more opinion to the matter I’ll extract this paragraph from the post “Thinking About Operation Audacious Employee” [ES] from the blog The Other Drum, which was not included in the last overview. Si nos quedamos pensando que el problema son “los pitucos de Asia” no vamos a llegar muy lejos. Tampoco sirve de nada decir “todos somos racistas”. No es solo cuestión de raza. Muchos factores nos hacen sentirnos superiores o inferiores a la persona que tenemos al frente: el sexo, la vestimenta, el modo de hablar, el tamaño, la presentación… Tendríamos que comprender cómo es que estamos siempre midiéndonos con cada persona con la que interactuamos. Por qué nos hemos acostumbrado a hacerlo así. Cómo podemos cambiarlo. Algunos dicen que el mercado es el gran igualador que borra estas diferenciaciones. No lo es. Crea otras. Si una sociedad está programada para jerarquizar y discriminar a la gente, el mercado sólo introducirá nuevas variables de jerarquización y discriminación. El problema pasa más bien por desprogramarla. If we keep thinking that the problem is “those snobs from Asia beach”, we are not going to get very far. Nor does it do any good to say “we are all racist.” It’s not only a question of race. Many factors make us feel either superior or inferior to the person in front of us: gender, clothing, the way we speak, size, presentation … We would have to understand just how we are always measuring up to each person we interact with; why we’ve accustomed to doing so; how we can change it. Some say that the market is the great equalizier that erases these discriminations. It’s not. It creates others. If a society is programmed to hierarchize and discriminate against people, the market will only introduce new variables of hierarchy and discrimination. The problem comes trying to deprogram it. […]

  • […] After a widely publicized protest against the harsh treatment of maids in Peru’s beach resort communities, Hypathia’s Daughter says the movement for maid’s rights made a visit to the upper-class neighborhood of Miraflores in the capital city, Lima. David Sasaki […]

  • Susana

    i couldn’t agree more with Jurgen…funny cause it’s sad cause it’s true…people in Lima are tacky and wannabes to a ridiculoous extreme, it gets contagious, that’s why i chose to leave…

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site