THE OLD BANKER BEHIND BARS!!!!

WEEK 9

Monday 1st of March through Sunday 7th

Monday 1st of March 2010.

Up as usual, a word of prayers to my God whom I believe is watching over me even in my low state.  And things are still same, nothing special as we remain lockdown and we happened to be on the morning shift, the doors were open up and out to the library to do some little writing. Being there for a while when we were called out that the captain of the Police wants to see the workers; these are mostly Panamanians who are working to keep the prison system running, there`s this guy who does the admin work, others do the weed and tend to other jobs around the centre. since the infamous escape, there as been lot of trees chopping around the centre, leaving the land like wilderness, they sort of forget about Mudslide, that it does rain heavy here in the jungle and since all the trees on the hills around us has been chopped off, the soil is left barren, we are waiting for the raining season to see what will happen.

Every morning, those working on the school buildings renovation project in the city are hauled out and accompany by one warden, they are mostly those with permits to go out during holidays and those who had done most of their time and wouldn`t risk running as it will be useless.

They had their meeting while I remained in the Library, did some writing and later read some pages from the book I`m reading now. That morning a fight was avoided as one of the party was reasonable enough to know that despite being a Panamanian, it will be worthless fighting as it will bring more loyal allies to the other side; being a dealer and used to live up with the minors in The pabellon area, one can tell, he has much of the minors under his control and can easily call up a knife. You don`t need to own a knife to be armed, all you need are close buddies and loyal friends, when fight bust up, they will draw the knives and you will be handed one to use. Strange how they operate!!!

We were hauled in by noon, and the minors were out, many longed to come into our area as that`s where life is and fun also, so much business activities here, it`s like a market scene, with the Italians making pizza, the Panama guys dealing in dope, someone is always busy selling or buying and also the gamblers with their table and cards. Up in the Pabellon,  it is always a dead end, smelly and no live. Since Jesus was coming with the radio today, we were also ready, had Jer Controlled him, he later called him that he was on his way, talked to one of the warden who begged me for money once as he was bringing his wife from wherever she was to his home, gave him what I can afford then. Since that day, I can always get favour from him, can always go out even when the doors are close to have my late shower or out with the minors when they are out. So he let me out to meet up with Jesus, when we got up with him at the entrance, he came without the radio and said it was denied entry. Well this is it, don`t know what more to do, he went up to see the Director, but couldn`t meet up as the Director was in meeting with the head of Police and others security officials in the centre.

While waiting, Jesus later left and my lawyer turned up, was allowed upstairs to meet up with him, others client of his came up also. We talked about loads, from him knew loads more of what is happening in this small country but with loads of history, with some so bloody and shouldn`t be told.

He talked about the Head of the national police force who had to resign due to shady past; he was an ally of the then head of State Noriega and he was among police officers who kidnapped American civilians during the invasion. He made several propaganda speeches like ones we see from our Arabs guys against America. Guess the Americans pressed some hot buttons and had him chucked out of office. Heard several papers had made reprint of special reports from the time of invasion showing this guy then. Also the Nation`s Attorney was forced to resigned as she once fired a state prosecutor who was a specialist in being paid for freedom by inmates, how I wish he was still here. Maybe he would have been useful, now he was suing the state attorney for illegal taping of his phone as he was caught on tape and also marked money was used in payment. Since the state attorney was already in deep waters with several top politician, that was an opportunity to kick her out. She was fired and hopes they get someone that will make the judicial process in this country a bit fast compare to what it is now. From what my lawyer said, there are so much skeletons in the cupboard that are being let open, many people one thought of being genuine are actually doing some dodgy things. Guess that typical of most Latino countries, murders, and shady drug deals gone bad.

it`s crazy how a country places more prominence on drugs than on homicide which is the number one problem in the country, well, I guess the homicide hasn`t gone close to affect the rich and mighty, but the drug trade is suppose to be a thing for them and also wanting to please the Big Brother with numbers; for a possession of joints, one can get bang up for four bad years. Our Italian guy that was given the maximum time (15 Years) for drug isn`t taking it as serious thing, I`ve jokingly said that since he from The Napoli area of Italy, he will live to become the godfather of the centre, his only problem is he is too small for that role, he has to be a bit bigger for anyone to take him serious.

While upstairs at the admin, one of the guys from the church was rushed up with deep cut on his left brow, thought it was stab wound as that is the only way one can sustained such injury in a place like this, but he doesn`t look like the type that will pull a fight. Later learned that improper use of the gym`s dumbbell did that to him, one of the rings fell on his forehead while he was training. Hummmmmm must have been very painful, the Director was relieved as it wasn`t knife wound so also was I as it would have been another stint of punishment on us the inmates.

Learned that Day that the Santos the guy who brought us into this punishment shit had escaped, he and others were allowed to work on the school renovation project on the third day of his outing, he changed his mind and decided to walk off. I guess he is accustomed to life on the run. He is 44 years old and for how long will be on the run. One of the custodio always joke with me, if I won`t like to escape, told him once, if he can get me my passport and some money, then open the gates for me, I will gladly walk out of this place.

Back to my den, mates waiting to know what transpired between me and my lawyer… Nothing new that the normal waiting news.

The rest of the evening was spent talking and we had a diner which is always the best meal of the day as we make it ourselves.

Couple of texts and call from my Schat, she is fine and my lil Angels are doing well, though naughty sometimes. But they are strong and being good kids.

The night came fast, laid my head to rest with my books in hands and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Tuesday 2nd of March,

Up as soon as the custodio came waking the guys that will be going out to work, BF came not too long and picked up. The Pabellon were on the early shift, which means we can sleep over till whenever; one good thing with this and most prisons in Panama, no routine as normal prison, you can sleep and wake whenever you want and nobody wakes up when you are sleeping; that can be bad also as someone can sleep into eternity and his mate thinks he`s still sleeping,  one is only woken when the warden comes calling as it maybe the moment you become free or as the Panamanian will like to know if it is one`s Consulate so they can wait for whatever ones get.

Heard my nickname; Big Black from the gate as our door are closed, the youths can`t come in, well don`t know what I will do to keep them off me. Turned a deaf ear to them and stayed on my bed till I was also tired of the bed, can be very bad for my back. When we were let out, made it to the library and was able to get a pc as the chap using it couldn`t figure out what is was, guess he thought it was a mini television, he wanted to watch porn, but couldn`t even hold the mouse, frustrated and left. I jumped on and began work on my writing, got loads to do, one of the boys came back, he`s been saying loads of rubbish about foreigners, guess because of one old bloke from my country who comes every morning to play Zuma, wonder what it does to him.

He nagged about foreigners using the pc`s while they do nothing, guess they don`t want to do anything. Finally done with what I was doing and he came on and asked me if I know where the porn are, well showed him and that was all he wanted to use the pc for. Sometimes, the best response to these kids is silence and real silence.

Back to my cell; guess the only comfort in this place, like I said you are safe in your cell as long as there is no turn coat.

That evening was our old bloke`s night; Pepe the old bank robber. All the while we thought this is just his first time in jail, not knowing he is being doing time even before most of us in this cell were born. He was probably among the first cons to christened Renacer in the 70`s when the Americans occupied this part of Panama. According to him, he was here in 1972 and he told us how good it was then, but then, it was real prison, Renacer had a garden and all vegetables and other shrubs or edible plants were cultivated on site. Then it was just foreigners and few Panamanians, and then prisoners were known and called by their numbers. Not like now that the wardens has to learn all the names of prisoners, guess now wardens only know your name when they need things from you or when you are a paying client like me and the few others foreigners. I was surprise how all the wardens know my name, not just Big Black, but my full name.

Pepe continued with his tales of how the place was really nice, that the few Panamanians, who were fortunate to be brought here, will not want to leave or escape even when they had the chance to do so. But he escaped; a friend was unlucky as he was shot on the leg. But Pepe made it out, right on broad day light, just before an oncoming train on the tracks. He fled to Colombia where he spent five years on the run. Guess he was tired and came back, his freedom didn`t last long when he came back, he was re-arrested and sent back to same jail, he came back to his former cell, he remembered every nooks and crannies of the centre, when he was brought back, he was thrown into the hole which is small dark room close to our shower and had been sealed off. He was in the hole for ten days without food, but his mates sneak him some things.

He lived through the Americans, the country changed, but Pepe never changed, he`s fathered kids who are in the Police force and other branch of military in the country, but pepe still remained a Banker: A proper banker that comes in after the  bank is closed and on with his banking business!!! He will be sixty two this year, hope this will be his last time in jail and mine also. He likes me as I`m the only one that listen to him, one good thing about him is his memory, very good with his memory, knows loads of numbers by memory, he doesn`t take notes or write things down. He also spends his money on hair dye to look younger; we learned that he`s got crush on one the lady working up at the admin and he is always in the gym doing weights, since he came here he`s pumped up a bit and looking good and healthy. I`m more or less his call centre as he`s always on me to help dial all his numbers, don`t really worry me as he doesn`t stay long on phone, sometimes when he gets credit from his people, he sells them to me sometimes at reduced rate.  He once told me that I`m such a nice person and why should I be here, told him, did something I shouldn`t have done. Ce`st la vive!!!!

Well Pepe story ends the night and we had our diner, I`m perfecting on my juice making, with different sort available for order. But my secret remains here with me.

Talked to Schat how the day had been and how I`m still waiting, from my lawyer, my consulate has been busy following my case. Happy that they care and willing to help, that much they can do, hope the process get faster. Sleep time…..

Wednesday 3rd of March…

We had the morning shift, out to the library, the two computers were used by gamers and more were waiting, came back to the cell, decided to listen to Julio Iglesias, brings back good memories, it was his music that brought me to love Spanish and  Latino music, back home started taking salsa lessons and had loads of music. He was actually in Panama for a concert, should have talked the director into letting me off to watch the show and promised to be back, How I need my radio badly now. And had an early workout, walking and jogging and then some weights, Schat and I always joke about how lots of people and friends telling her they all expect me to come back with a six pack; guess they thought it`s that easy, that when I`m leaving, the Director will call me and give me my six pack, I guess the stress is even more in a place like this; as one can be so down and your head is choked up with thinking, you need some sort of kick and motivation to even wake up from your bed and do what you ought to do each and everyday. You may end up in the gym with one of these crazy boys who may not be in the right mood and happened to be using the weights. They make stupid jokes which I have experienced loads of times. And if you response, they take it on you. And once they start, it never end, sometimes it ends with the knives been drawn and the one with the bigger one gets the day. Was in the gym with some few lads who seems cool and Pepe, we worked out and talked, they asked about my country and what life is all about there. Tell them what I can and try to discourage more questions. The Equipments are crude and can be as dangerous as the knives in the centre when not used properly.

Enjoyed working out and back to my cell to cool down with more tummy workout, hope I get the six pack, if not when I have money, I may go to Colombia for the easy form of getting it as we have come to know that Colombia is the heaven for cosmetic surgery in this part of the world. They do everything, even the backside. Wonder how one will feel having a girl and learning that she has fake lips, fake boobs, fake bumps…. and girls always say guys are fake…. well wonder what else they will not do in Colombia; at least they would have stick to the white thing, even heard they now do heroin, taking the trade from the Afghans. Maybe the Afghans are too busy fighting war, so the Colombians are lending helping hands and making the route shorter in getting the stuffs to the States.

After my workout, had a cold shower which is what we have here, the shower heads are line up like a Firing squad range, once played a joke with some lads as they all lined up taking their shower, pretend shooting them as they lined, one said I have a bad mind to think of that. He`s one the few Panamanians studying and making good use of his time here.

Our Agent was called out by one of the Wardens, when he came back; he came in with a long letter from his lawyer. Read it and from what I understand, his lawyer was suing the American government for his arrest and detention in the States for four years, there were so many blunders by the Americans; he was arrested on international waters where the yanks had no jurisdiction over and the drugs they fed him while in detention in the States which has mashed up his mind.

He was actually suing them for $10M (Ten Million American Dollars), well I hope he wins and they pay him, told him I will get $1M, guess that will solve most if not all my problems.

Things are a bit relaxed in the centre, hope it goes on this way and we live in peace with each other….

Thursday 4th of March…

Manuelito, guess his name suits him right, a petite Colombian that look like Mini-me from Austin Power films, he is involve or was thrown into the Montaño case, was caught with a boat filled with drugs, done seven years without trial or seeing any court room till December last year when they were brought before a judge and the case adjourned till further notice.

Since my name was added for diet meal (suppose to be healthy meal, but I doubt that), he wouldn`t give me the normal breakfast, he expects me to wait for Billy the Kiwi or the Bulgarian guy that serves the Diet BF and pick mine up, the BF business is suppose not to take 2mins of my sleep time, but I have to stay longer just to get 3 pieces of bread and whatever will come with it. Sometimes I ignore it but then, when the Kiwi comes, he holer my name, gotta get up again. The most absurd thing about Manuelito and the BF, he stocks the bread and when he can`t finish them, and then throws them away as they staled. That is pure waste of food when many will want to eat. Guess no one really give a damn about what he does or what happens to the food, as  most people get fresh food every other day and weekends. From what I have seen about this place, one can easily placed an order with any of the fast-food joints and have them send something down, so long you buy enough to feed the cops and Custodios on duty, and able to pay the cost of delivery. Anything is possible in Panama, we once joked that we will placed orders with KFC as they do delivery. Wonder how people in Europe will look like if KFC and others were doing delivery as they do in Panama, Europe will become one big fat continent with loads of Big one packers, it will be fun watching footie and having your favourite fast food as take away delivered to your door, nobody will bother to cook anything anymore. Hungry? Order a triple Whopper or a Big Mac and attach those cut outs from newspapers giving you one free. I`m luvin it!!!

We were on the afternoon shift, out for some exercise, did some walking and jogging, then some weights, getting my body back and feel so good now. Paco, the lying Mexican whom I asked for his laptop joined me, we finished and shower together, reminded him of the laptop, this time he said, it’s got virus, but I see him use it most nights. Hope we get to get ours soon.

That evening we talked about the incident and one talk brought another, kept wondering why our embassies or consulates thought this place to be safe for us foreigners; the most foreigners are doing time for the white stuff or money laundering thing. But the Panamanians, just few are doing time for same thing as we. The most are in for homicide and not just shooting or stabbing, but some for such gruesome forms of murders that will make a very good horror movie. Carlito our one eyed friend who has gotten his Law degree while serving a long time for what I didn`t know till that evening. Killed his girlfriend, chopped her body like steak, and the head was never found. He was given twenty years; I guess the judge was mad just for not finding the head. He`s done quite some time now and he is regularly given permission to go out to the streets.

One other Guy, I always call him with the name tattooed on his chest which happened to be his son`s name, killed his wife and mother-in law (I can understand killing of mother in-law as most men don`t really fancy them around) and set fire on their butterflies…. wondered why setting fire on their things, what must have happened, killing would have been enough but setting fire on their butterflies, I guess I won`t know or find out what they did to deserved such horrid and despicable ending to their precious lives on earth and torching their butterflies which most men will do anything to get it. Guess he will do his time here and out without me knowing the reasons behind his motives. Though he seems to be a cool guy and he is just new on his sentence, he`s got a long way to go. It will take a looooooooooong timeeeeeeeeeeee.

Another young guy, from a very rich and influential family, together with his girlfriend murdered another girlfriend who was still in the picture, well, I guess his girl must have done it so she will remain the only love in the picture and in his life, that she wouldn`t have needed his help, she could have done that alone and get back home to make him a nice meal and give him proper after meal thing on the bed. But I guess she wooed him into taking the other girl out and he fell for it, women they`ve got that persuasive powers that we all fall for.

Well, these guys and others shouldn`t be sent to a rehabilitation centre, but since they all pay their ways to get here, nothing could be done and still they are all armed with knives and whatever weapons anybody will think of. Happy that I`m sort of cool with most of them, hope no falling out as their fight never ends until they have drawn blood.

The place is like a setting for the next horror movie to take place, nobody knows when, thank God for those among them who believed they have found redemption through the word, and in God. Whenever voices are raised and the body language tells something will happen, they rush in and calm the situation. But still, all it takes could be a second for what to happen to happen.

What more to say, stay calm and leave here in one piece and in peace. In God wee trust, can`t tell my Schat this as she won`t sleep. But so long the door remained lock at night. I can sleep and be rest assured that I`m safe for the moment. In God I trust…..

Friday 5th of March….

Woke up in the middle of the night and read till BF came, up and out for exercise and workout, as I ain`t got much to do. I can use my time working out, worked out till almost noon and back in the cell for some abs training with the bar in the cell, while I wait for my hair cut; how cheap it is to get an hair cut, everything here is between a dollar or two. Hope to get my own hair clipper as that is healthy, don`t know how this guy sterilize his.

While I was out joking, one the Native Indian guy got some fishes, guess don`t know how he will prepare them, gave them to me and I bought some green Mangoes from his buddy that works outside the centre; think I`m the only one in my cell that really worry about fruits as the others don`t really worry much.

While having my hair cut, saw one the guys who trained with me earlier, put on his training glove on his right hand, my mind told me something is coming as I heard him exchanged words with one new guy who was brought from the Colon prison (Told us how dangerous that place is, chance if being shot for nothing is very high there, during one of the searches the police found 28 Guns). Next thing I saw was the guy came up with a massive Knife even if Rambo saw that will stand frozen on his feet. He threaten the Colon guy with it, but one the church guy came in before blood was drawn and talked him into putting his sword away. I have seen knives here, but this was mightier than others and brand new stainless steel, they say the pen is mightier than the sword; bloody lie, that doesn`t count in prison setting as there`s no rules of fighting. Here the Knife or Sword as I will say of this is damn mightier than any pen!!! Take it or leave it…….

After all searches, you see them displayed their treasures and they chat as if they have accomplished a great task, no knowing that what these guys got in here are more powerful than what they had found. One will wonder how these things kept coming in, guess corrupt officials running the damn centre. Some have alliances to one gang or the other, others for money.

That was the talked throughout the night, the young lad from Colon ended up in our cell that night, he seems to be a nice guy, who only smoke his joint and watch our Passa passa videos in our cell, now he is in our cell, came in with his polyfoam and got a place on the floor. We found out that something was missing in his former cell and his former mate accused him of stealing; that was just why the knife was drawn, anything can caused knives to come out from their resting and hiding place whenever they are needed. Any small thing, even words you think should have passed through someone`s ears. So one gotta be careful anytime and every goddamned time!!!!!

He ate with us and kinda felt at home in our cell, but we are just too many in that cell, sometimes having an enemy in your territory makes you an enemy also. Hope the authorities find a better place and neutral place for him soon.

Saturday 6th of March….

Up by 2.00am and read till 5.00am, our new inmate was sleeping, at a time he opened his eyes and watched me, don`t know if he wanted to ask me something. But kept his peace, later on that day, he asked me if I like reading, answered him, since there`s nothing worth doing, reading is the only thing that will take my mind off this place.

Went back to sleep till almost 7.00am when BF came, picked it up and back to bed, slept a while until was tired of sleeping. I never know one can get weary of sleeping, but now I found out you can dread your own bed and long for something else but nothing there to be done, maybe finger biting as my mate and I sometimes does out of boredom.

Had fried eggs from my mate, and Pepe came with warning of police search, not long we saw the police came in, I never believe these  people can be so brainless, how can someone organised a search party for a knife that was seen the previous day. They search the former cell and my former cell as that was the next one to the cell where the knife was drawn. They didn`t find no knife, all they found was a tank full of Moonshine which was due to be drunk that weekend, what a bad day for the guys as they were waiting to get pissed but it never happened.

Went to the library but couldn`t work as too many gamers were waiting to take turns on the computers. Stayed and read until noon when it was closed. Back in my cell away from the youths as they will be up on my ass for money or to use my phone, nothing much happened. We didn`t cook as there was no meat, so we all made something individually to eat. Made for Ernesto the Panamanian lad and made some juice for others.  The Lad from Colon was gone, the Custodio found a new cell for him. Good luck in his new cell.

Sunday 7th of March….

Was woken up by catcalls from one of the dope head in the Galeria, didn`t have an idea of time, it was frightening as I thought something was wrong. The noise was so loud and it was becoming contagious as more people joined in the banging and screaming, many thoughts ran through my mind, if someone has taken ill or something has happen; there could be fight between cellmates and it could be deadly. No idea of time, but soon gotta know that it was people who had an early morning visit and want to get ready for their visits.

The doors were finally opened and they all went out, also went out for exercise and little workout. Got the laptop, but decided to finish my workout before I will use it. Done and got online, it`s always the best moment as I find myself back in the real world out from the belly of the beast. Fresh news of what is happening, didn`t stay long as he came for it, was able to get some mp3 files and did some work online. My Schat knew I was online as I sent her a mail.

The prison rice today that came during lunch was actually the best we ever had, ate quite loads and the chicken was dried fried.

No food tonight, Manni had to make something; he did Pasta as that is his favorito. I made my juice and we all drank and ate and drifted off as sleep came….

The Night was horrible, as our two mates; Agent and the skinny panam lad bombarded us with gases that if bottles or canned be used as biological weapons. The three of us that were up watching film had to endure the stink of their farts the whole night. Many of these guys believe drinking sodas and eating loads of meaty things is the good life, our meals are always less vegetables, no fruits and I guess most drink less water, but I tried to always get vegetable and drink more than the 2litres recommended. That night was the worst night in this place, we were lucky that our cell is a bit ventilated since it`s the first cell in the row. Imagine it was one the small and tight ones, guess someone would have been suffocated.

We endured and survived the night and I hope they sort out their systems and start eating properly.

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