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...a sweatshop of moxie

Monday, January 24, 2005


I came home late last night, after a delicious day spent with my mother and her open wallet.

Leprechauns sold separately

I took her for Sunday Brunch to John Martin's Irish pub in Coral Gables -- a mainstay of the Miracle Mile restaurant scene. It had been years since either she or I had been, but it still looked a cross between an upscale eatery as conceived by an Irish-American owner for his international Haute Bourgeoisie clientele. Fortuitous, because that's exactly what it John Martin's is.

What a coincidence then, as I sipped my hot cocoa later in front of telly (trying to ward off the 40sF temperatures), that I caught sight of this SUR TV channel's presentation of Peru's Cuarto Poder ("Fourth Estate") programme.

What Fantastico is to Brazil, what 60 Minutes is to the US, so do Peru's twin Sunday news programmes fill that bill, one of which is Cuarto Poder -- hosted by the delectable Raúl Tola.

The best segment, other than some elderly Tarapaqueños who mourned the loss of their city to Chile in a war between the two Andean nations, was about a Japanese-Peruvian named Euding Maeshiro, who started a fully-manned-by-volunteers pub called, self-referrentially, "Voluntarios".

It's completely staffed by volunteers, with the exception of the bartender and bouncer I think I understood, most of whom by the looks of them, are upper-class Peruvians, educated, well-to-do, and white. This last is often the only needed social carte blanche in South America.

Maybe in the "Anglo" world, as Peruvians and others would call it, volunteering your time and effort to worthy causes isn't something which raises many eyebrows. Even the very rich -- no, I would say, especially the very rich -- have a tradition of doing so, without prompting, and without fanfare.

But in South America, and Peru, that's not so common. In fact, it's uncommon enough to end up as an inspiritational story on a Sunday newsmagazine broadcast. And of course, therein lies their tragedy, because though top-down power is common enough the world over, top-down charity is not.

I don't think this point can be overstated. A nation is only as good as its people, but its leaders must be the best of them all for it to succeed. This doesn't mean politicians, it doesn't mean their clergy, and it doesn't mean their bankers. It means their elite in totality.

This is why the Voluntarios pub is such a brilliant and much-needed concept. Young, rich, high-society Peruvians serving one or two nights on rota basis in this pub, as nothing more than waiters/waitresses, doing the washing up afterwards, tending bar, for free. All wages deferred, all tips donated, all going to charitable causes around Lima.

That's brilliant.

Interestingly, as I left John Martin's, I noticed they had a "Tsunami Kitty" drive on the way out, as you could put in this or that amount so it could be sent on to the victims of the Christmas floods. In went my tenner, and my mother's cheque, prompting a twinkle from the lady at the till.

So I think the moral of this blog entry seems to be, charity begins in pubs. But then, I suppose it always did.


  • querida Victoria:
    gracias por tus comentarios y buena onda. Ciertamente este proyecto creado por Euding Maeshiro ha logrado sacar a flote sentimientos de solidaridad y amor por el prójimo que muchos peruanos tenian dormidos.
    Anombre de todos los voluntarios, gracias nuevamente por tu interés y los mejores deseos del mundo para ti. con afecto: luis luix@mercadotecnica.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jan 24, 10:45:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Luis, me alegro verte aqui, en este blog humilde de una inglesita cosmopolita.

    Fue mi gran placer escribir estas pocas palabras encima sobre el proyecto "Voluntarios Pub", y todos los dias me maravillo ante la compasion y la empatia de ciertos seres humanos como ustedes.

    Tambien maravillo que la red (this internet of ours) nos da la oportunidad no solo de hablarmos un con el otro, pero casi instantaneamente. Tan solo 24 horas atras, estava viendo "Cuarto Poder" con mi mama, y ahora, te hablo sobre el mismo asunto contigo.

    ¡Que barbaro! como dicen los Peruanos. ;)

    (Tambien recebi una cartita electronica encantadora de Euding, y voy a poner el link del pub en un "Update" encima)

    Un saludo y muchos abrazos muy fuertes a todos los colegas del Pub Voluntarios, Luis. Espero verlos un dia!


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Jan 25, 12:05:00 am GMT-5  

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