The Dirty Business Between Soldiers and Prisoners / Dania Virgen Garcia

Prisons_Cuba_AFP. The image was taken in April 2013 when the foreign press was allowed to enter jails chosen by the state.

What about the wages of who officers who guard correctional facilities?  Do they traffic in narcotics and various benefits?

HAVANA, Cuba. – The ingestion of alcoholic beverages and psycho-pharmaceuticals is a very common vice in prisons, encampments and forced labor penitentiary settlements.  They provide, moreover, a business that is carried out day by day, in most cases, by prisoners with financial power.

Innumerable civilian workers and officials of the MININT (Ministry of the Interior) have been sanctioned in tribunals for the crimes of bribery and embezzlement.

Events like these often cause homicides.

There is a multitude of problems within the prisons and encampments: fights, bloodshed, theft, self-harm, escapes; these last are well paid-for to MININT’s civilian and military workers.

Life in the penitentiary settlements is incomparable to that of the jails.  They are workplaces or warehouses that belong to MININT. The quantity of prisoners that must inhabit them is reliably between 15 or 20, or those that bribe the re-educator of the prison or encampment.

Business is different in these places. The prisoners are privileged. Once they arrive they are free to do what they like. The supply of psycho-pharmaceuticals, alcohol, and the illicit businesses are not controlled. They may go outside the area when they want, ask permission to go to their homes and other benefits provided they bribe the guard and the officer.

The defenseless prisoners who report these outrages are exposed to reprisals, threats, severe beatings, shakedowns, punishments cells and prohibitions of their rights. They subject them to physical and psychological torture to make them shut up.

The inmates who do not allow themselves to break continue informing the independent press, which is their only means of defense.

When the punishments do not break them, they take away family visits and then transfer them to other prisons, some more than 200 kilometers from their families.

Another method that the guards use is to incite prisoners to physical attacks or accuse them of crimes not committed.

The heads of the Bureau of Prisons, Encampments and Forced Labor Settlements, within and outside of them, are not able to control this fully corrupt environment. Something is wrong when there is so much corruption.

Cubanet, March 18, 2014, Dania Virgen Garcia

Translated by mlk.