Life in a South American Prison

In some South and Central American countries prison conditions can be extremely poor and prisoners may have limited access to food, water, medical and dental treatment. Here an ICPO client describes his experience in a Venezuelan prison.

Los Teques is reputed to be one of the worst prisons to enter into in the world. Well maybe it has the highest death rate of any prison but it’s far from the worst in my opinion. OK, so if you’re stupid enough to wander around on your own outside the safety of your wing and get held up at knife or gun point and all they rob is your money and not your life then you are a very lucky person. But there are lads that do it after being warned time and time again.

You ask any prisoner here and they would not swap for any other prison in the world. Although you are locked up, you have the freedom to move around, watch TV, make your own food, wash your own clothes and make phone calls. You are not banged up 18 hours a day with no fresh air at all, no one to talk to, going out of your mind. As long as you keep your wits about you and your head down then you have no problem.

So, how did I come to be here? It is a question I ask myself time and time again and believe you me that’s a thing I’ve plenty of TIME! I know I could come up with a simple answer, I got on a plane, I put drugs in my suitcase and got caught red handed in the airport but it doesn’t answer the question enough to satisfy my mind.

Am I here because I’m a bad person? I don’t think so because inherently I’m not. Am I here because I’m a thick person? Once again, the answer is no, for I’m far from being thick or stupid for that matter. No, I think I’m here to be taught a lesson, this to me sounds nearer the truth. The best things in life are free and that certainly includes your freedom.

They say you chart your own destiny and make your own luck, well whoever they are I think they are right.  I mean nobody forced me to come here, a gun wasn’t put to my head, if it had been I never would have come and as for luck well that ran out at the airport.

I’ve been through an awful lot in my life which believe me is a very long story and I have been lucky up ‘til now but maybe it is a blessing in disguise. I think my life was going in the wrong direction anyway and if I can take heed from this lesson and actually learn from it then I can only go on to better things. Notice the way I left out bigger things, for I no longer want bigger things, all I want to do is get better. Bigger things just seem to get you into trouble, better things will clear your conscience and ultimately make you a better person.

Liberty is a precious thing which is all too often taken for granted by us, it’s only when you lose your liberty that you start to miss it along with all the other simple things in life. Going for a walk, out for a drive, down to the pub with the lads, off to watch a game, sit down with the feet up and watch TV, drinking a cup of tea, the list is endless, believe me.

The saying ‘if I knew then what I know now’ comes to mind and again how true it is. If I hadn’t done this, what if I did that instead. Well I didn’t and here I am and here I’ll stay until they say that magical word ‘Freedom’ to me and I’d say to every other person like me the most important word in the dictionary.