The New Prison, the New School / Luis Felipe Rojas

Numerous facilities which functioned as schools decades ago are now being used as  detention centers in the Eastern province of Holguin. Until recently, in the municipality of San German, some secondary schools were being used to keep inmates which worked in the agricultural programs established by the Ministry of the Interior.  Others continue to still be used as prisons of “less severity”, as the regime calls them.

Prisoners are transferred to such centers from their “major severity” centers like the Provincial Prison, Playa Manteca, and El Yayal (“Cuba Si”) as part of a phase change.  The schools of rustic architecture have been restructured to accommodate such prisoners but facing certain difficulties, including the fact that most these places are situated on or very near small rural neighborhoods such as Los Naranjos, Sabanilla Norte, and Sain, which make up the former “sugar producing colonies” which were also surrounded by the extensive Cauto River.  The inhabitants of these neighborhoods have seen how their safety has deteriorated with the increase of robberies, violence and fights among interns, attempts of harassment, and violations.

These institutions included youths under the title of “scholarship holders” under the principal of combining work and study, but the deterioration of the economy and immigration towards the cities brought a considerable descent in secondary level and middle level enrollments, bringing the decline of rural educational centers.

With this procedure, the Cuban government has not stayed true to one of its fundamental premises which was a slogan they constantly shouted in 1959, that of converting barracks into schools.

Translated by Raul G.

6 October 2011