Prison Diary XLVII: “I Want Out of MININT. This Is Shit.” / Angel Santiesteban

Operation in prison: Sleeping inmate victim of the officers.*

On Friday, 12 July at 6:00 in the evening, an operation started in the prison. The guards ran about desperately, holding clubs and bats. Reinforcements showed up, making a cordon, shirtless and in shorts, rifles at the ready. The guard dog was given a shirt to smell and the dog immediately took off running, perhaps mocking them, because a heavy rain had fallen recently; but it was fun to see the excitement around the German shepherd, excited about finding the escaped prisoner.

It’s been just a week since the first fugitive, who still hasn’t been captured, and they’ve taken every coercive measure, thinking someone else will try it.

Now I will tell you in the first person present, what one re-educator said, embarrassed about what happened:

“We had counted all the prisoners who were in the barracks. We now had no doubt that a prisoner was missing. For the duty officer, an escape is the worst demerit, it will mean being demoted, so you can imagine the desperation with which he tries to find the fugitive. Coincidentally, the duty officer of the day is Major Erasmus, who was removed from Combinado del Este precisely for two escapes at the beginning of 2012, when he was Head of the Building 1 Unit.

“Now Mayor Erasmus is Head of Internal Order, and is more nervous than ever, he walks the floor asking everyone around if they have seen some strange movement. Some soldiers look inside the cistern, in the grass, on the roofs.

“The despair is widespread. At ten in the evening, the news goes out that there’s been movement seen in the dining room where there shouldn’t have been anyone at that time. We all run towards it. When we get there, the First Lieutenant and Secretary of the Party for Prison 1580, Tamayo, is already beating the inmate who works there and who’s shouting that he had fallen asleep from the pills he took. I can not hide that an anger burns within us, we want to evacuate; but practice and maturity tell us to behave, although we do not all think alike. This same captain was demoted — along with Lieutenant-Colonel Mediaceja — when the minor Dayron was assassinated in the Cotorro Youth Prison.

“After Officer Tamayo handcuffed him with his hands behind his back, the slugfest begin, they all had  rubber batons, bats, and fists. They were beating him from the dining area to the cell area, fifty yards of constant beatings.

“The prisoner fell and they forced him up, without stopping the blows. Upon reaching the cell, Mayor Erasmus was already waiting for him, who had been informed by the plant, and he joined in the punishments. When they all had sweaty uniforms, they stared at me because mine was completely dried, I had no choice, I kicked him but it hurt me more than him, at that point he couldn’t not feel anything. His body was completely red. They immediately stripped him and threw him into the cell.

“As we were leaving, a soldier showed me some empty pill packages found around the prisoner when he was caught in the mess hall.”

“Keep them to serve as evidence,” I told him.

At this Officers Erasmo and Tamayo appeared and took the packages and threw them out the window.

“They’re not going to show any leniency; nor make known what is chronic, nor take psychotropic drugs.”

We were silent and continued watching the rest of the night.

At dawn, when we went to the count and saw him again, if it weren’t for the cell number I would have thought they’d moved him. He no longer looked like the person we’d left, red and watery, much less surprised by that trouncing in the dining room. We had before us a monster, literally, with swollen and purplish eyes, bumps in the skull, his body completely purple with the marks of the beatings by rubber truncheons, boards and bats. He was still weeping, aching.

“He spent the whole night complaining,” said the soldier guarding the cell.

There were blood clots on the floor.

“Take him to the doctor and get him injections for the pain.”

We had to load him up to transfer him to the medical station. When the doctor saw him he couldn’t hide the impression it made on him, and immediately begin to examine him. The officers tried to stop him when they saw he was filling out a medical certificate of the injuries, but he refused.

“If this man dies, the responsibility will be yours; he has to be taken to a hospital for a more thorough exam and X-rays.”

The officers, frightened now, refused to move him, knowing that if he was taken this way there would be a scandal. They threw him back in his cell, naked, and fourteen hours later the blood is still running there.

“I swear, ’Political’ [political prisoner] that the kick I gave him was in the leg. These people are crazy, as if they don’t think that at some point the time is going to come to pay for these abuses. My wife’s family in Spain warns me not to get involved in the crimes they commit, especially against the ’Human Rights’ [activists].”

The officer finished telling me everything with his head in his hands.

“I want out of MININT [Ministry of the Interior], this sucks,” he told me.

He then went off, afraid, like someone who knows that in the future he’ll have to narrate this event in front of a court that does not owe its power to the government or to the repressive forces.

Now there’s nothing we can do but pray for the life the young man who suffers intense pain in the punishment cell.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

* There are several posts that Angel sent me while he was still in Prison 1580 that I still have to post. This is one of them. In the coming days I will publish others.

The Editor

14 August 2013