Giving Society Voice in Lima, Peru

Luis Carlos is a video fanatic that for the past few years has built a video screening web site called Habitación de Henry Spencer. He records every day videos about people and situations capturing many social moments in the city of Lima, Peru. With a wide range of topics recorded on video, La Habitación de Henry Spencer has made a large audience for itself attracted by in-house entertainment clips, witness shots on daily happenings in the city, interviews to interesting people and citizen journalism.

La Habitación de Henry Spencer has drawn its viewers attention to special political and social situations mostly within Peru's capital area. The past mayor of Miraflores district, Miguel Macías, strengthened police actions towards youth groups, artists and anyone that would act out of the ordinary in the municipality center. He was known for having racist behavior, opposed the local book fair, tried to charge access to the skating park to kids from other districts and closed gay bars. Under his local government, police became intolerant and in some times aggressively pressured people to move out of public spaces.

One night, Luis Carlos filmed how the police engaged a street comedian acting as Charlie Chaplin. In the video, police officers try to evict the comedian and refuse to answer Luis Carlos' questions on citizen rights while filming. The video known as “Charles Chaplin versus el Serenazjo de Miraflores” was seen by hundreds of people creating awareness among young people that lived and frequently were around the area. The Mayor was asked about his public space measures and policy enhancing a large debate within society.

Other abusive government activities were revealed building political pressure against the Mayor mainly in social networks. Miguel Macías was not reelected as Miraflores district Mayor. La Habitación de Henry Spencer slowly gained a status of reliable local citizen reporting. Luis Carlos interviewed citizens and politicians, enriching the debate and strengthening blogger's opinions and participation in public debate on key public topics such as human rights, net neutrality and copyright law. Also, certain commonly off-record conversations were captured in video, revealing more on some politicians that was commonly known by the general public.

La Habitación de Henry Spencer's involvement in activism has blended along side many other topics that have grown of interest to an increasing Peruvian audience. “In an entertaining and cheerful way you can introduce really important topics to people using video,” said Carlos. Luis considers himself just a video-blogger that aims to show what happens in the city and spread the word of stories than can make people laugh, learn and think about every day life.

“If you do video and you want to get involved in infoactivism, you only have to get to know your cause and document it," Said Carlos. "The key is to do it and in the way you will learn many things,” he continued. 

Advocacy for him is one part of La Habitación de Henry Spencer, that blended with a rich mix of topics, encourages people to know their rights better and get involved in meaningful social issues.


TOOLS USED: photo/video camera, laptop and graphic design and video editing software

REACH: Peru and some Spanish-speaking audiences

RESOURCES: pocket video camera, laptop, video editing software, Internet access

COST: minimum 1,000 USD for a camera and laptop or PC time: weekly video recording and production

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: 1 out of 5; resources are cheap and accessible and this works relies on the activist's discipline and ability to record and share stories

Story by Juan Casanueva