Monday, 20th of December, 5 days to Christmas, though behind bars, can still feel christmas around the corner. Most inmates with contact to bring in paints and other materials had their cells painted and decorated; with Christmas lights and all sorts of decorations! Not bad!
Spoke with my Italian friend, picked up same day as I was, we have been together ever since until he and several others were transferred to the new pavilion in La Joyita, he was slapped with a hard sentence despite having what he had for personal consumption! So ridiculous how the Authorities believe they are fighting drug trade by slamming people with long time for few hundred grams and some for personal consumption!
Moreover, it isn’t just locking people but also caring for them; medically, shelter, food and water as demanded by the UN convention on prisoner’s right! We don’t get any basic things here, now I see why inmates ain’t damn ready to share nothing. Things are hoarded as nobody knows when next they’ll get any! Don’t blame them! Will do same, but not just in my character! None gives anything for free, it’s about making money, surprising the money ends up with the dope dealers or liquor dealers! A complete circle of fools or cons as I should rightly say!
The most important concerns in the minds of inmates here is what will make and keep them happy through the festive period!
There is usually a big search on the run up to Christmas, but till date, there hasn’t been any, the veterans here knows it will come. So they’re all on full alert! Not taking any chances, I’m ready for any call of movement of men on green! There’re inmates who for each day sits up on the top of the cells acting as watchmen on the look out for mass movements of the Aligator men (As the Cops in Panama dresses in green), once they crosses the gate that separate us from the two pavilions in opposite us, signal is given! All one hears is; they’re coming! Or just Coming! One don’t need to be told, seeing young and old running helter-skelter! All to their stash spots! And hope fate will help keep it safe from the cops!
And, what about me? Counting and keeping tap on every second, minutes, days, weeks and Months as they roll by! And hoping for the best! Making arrangements to get another guitar, my clumsy mate who broke my piece hasn’t made any effort or ask me on how we can get it fix! Think! I’ll have to do it myself.
Picked up another book, getting into it, interesting read, lately being doing less writing, gotta keep up. Still hard to stay up late and read as I get damn sleepy since I can’t afford a nap in the afternoon, in dare need of a bed at all cost, one thing I miss about Renacer; The Bed, it gives you the feelings of your own world and privacy! Been on the damn floor for about 6 months now! Wondering when Ramon will go, so I can move into his bed!
Back home, very difficult with Schat as she manages her time with the kids, back to work as the money is needed! She’s being my true helper as my daughter always say “Daddy I have been a good helper”! She has been a good support from day one! Not many’re lucky to have a woman like her, seen many lost it, knowing that nothing is out there for them when they get back home; not even the warmth of a home, the kiss of a lover and the joyous laughter of kids! Don’t know when I will know the warmth of my home, my bed, the kiss of my lover and see my kids run and jump into my open hands for a warmth embrace! In the depth of my heart, I know a day comes, one I’ll walk through the gates and a free man!
Loads of request to help with one thing or the other, mostly internet set up on newly purchased phones (seen one with iPhone4G and another with BB Torch) and opening email account. Majority here wants facebook account not knowing what it is!lol! Many thought it’s another dating site, trying to explain can lead to something else. Many had their accounts blocked after being reported for abuse or pestering ladies they don’t with invite, had to help them re-activate their accounts!lol!
So, just gotta help them set up an account and let them do what they feel like.
It’s hard to tell this guys that one is busy as they won’t understand. They are like kids, once they need something, they want it at that moment, when you say later, they response with; you are not my friend! Wondering how develop their brains are! Guess there’s no friends here, we are all on our own!
Like they say, out of sight is out of mind! So I stay out of sight in my cell, there’s no place here to sit and have a decent time to oneself. The supposed to be library is a den for gamers and gamblers! Not bad as it gives the place a true prison atmosphere!
Even being out of sight, that doesn’t stopped them from gossiping, damn, never knew men could actually talk like women! Once they’ve got nothing doing, the next item on the agenda is to pick whoever is not around, dissect that fellow. Once you walked in, they pretend as if nothing’s happening; not men enough to tell it to one’s face!
Apart from being a prison, this place could pass as another booming market in Panama, each day more things passed hands here than in most markets. Thousands of dollars worth of deals are done in various transactions! Some we don’t know or see, but when things goes bad, then we all know! Greed!
Each day comes with a problem for the day, do my best to go through each day with grace or graft! As it is here, once you engaged in a fight, you’re sent out to another pavilion! One of the few Panamanians who was fortunate to be here but showed his boxing skills by knocking out half of what was left of a Colombian teeth! He was sent out, saw him on Tuesday as they came out on Patio, damn! He looks like he’s from the Nazi’s concentration camp (apparently the buildings here are built like in a Nazi’s camp style)! He looked very skinny; he was living pretty good here as he was living among Colombians who had things running here. But lost it all to his temper! Heard he’s been asking to get back. But damn if the Colombians’ll let him back as it was one theirs he fought with.
Our female-impersonators in Pavilion 2 came out before Christmas, well, guess pavilion 2 is were the fiesta is! They didn’t look anything close to prisoners! Wonder how they get all the female clothing into the centre! All the make-ups! And ladies’s shoes! They’ve got proper contacts among the ranks and file!
Many took photographs with their phones, but won’t risk taking my phone outside!
Heard most are doing time for homicide, strange how Latino Americans just like killing people like roaches! Well looking at them parade around wasn’t a bad sight either! Most intentionally walked towards our side of fence to flashed us what they’ve got. Many of follow inmates engages in phone sex with most of them. Guess , cheaper and free from premium number billing, gets free pictures of you know what? That I can’t say as I’m yet to see, but my curiosity’ll lead me to find out soon as many know for sure how many are having phone thing with the Trans!
Later on 24th evening, when we thought they had given us grace! We heard the catcalls, and whistle, running and banging. Men climbing to the ceiling and roof top for their stash spot. Hiding phone, chargers and knives or any metal fashioned into weapon.
Kept mine and prayed it survives the search. From the first whistle and the climbing and stashing, all done in less than 5mins! Damn! Even apes’ll look in awe the way the guys climb the cells to the roof!
We were all called out and Pat-searched. They went around the cells doing their job, one of the older guy in my cell stayed back in the cell. Outside we rained curse on them as our food that just came in were getting cold. Guess that was meant to disturbed their search. But the guys knew what they were doing. They came for moonshine; when they finished they came out with 15 Big Kegs or Gallons of brew and distilled. They didn’t come for phones but anyone that was careless enough to keep his outside must have lost it. They went to all the brewers and distillers cells! They knew what they came for.
It wasn’t long after Christmas, we heard that most of the brews were resold to the dealers! It’s all business!
Back home in Europe, we do the eating and drinking on 25th, but here in Latino America, they eat, drink and get stupid on 24th evening and sleep over on 25th!
Waooooh! food, food, more food and mucho drink! The cells were left opened till late; supposed to be midnight but eventually locked by 1am!
Never thought that one could catch such fun in jail, well let just say everyday should be Christmas!
One inmate collapsed from drinking too much; his cellmates help bring him back to life to continue with the fiesta. I got a litre of the distilled, mixed with fresh juice and fruit, made fruit punch! Wasn’t bad as many drank from it. We had our fill; music (Vallenato, Salsa, maraichi frm the Mexicanos), Turkey, Ham, fruits, cake, nuts and rice all brought in by my cellmate (bit loaded)! He’s been the one buying the food we eat as he has someone visiting him on every visit day! That’s one major problem for us foreigners; no one to visit or buy us groceries, so we end up buying the inflated prison price, the old man running one the shops here, doubt if he will want to leave as he is making so much money here! He’s so loaded as he controlled the groceries here. Wondered if he ever made such when he was on the street! So fat now that he his a private masseur; a Mexican who goes in every evening to give him massage! Hope it’s just massage!
Now that I have finally gotten my diet permit, problem is; who will help buy the things outside and bring them in. In most cases, I have to pay for who’ll do that, or have to share whatever I buy for myself!
Most ended the 24th night with headache, as they had mixtures of liquor! But so much happened while the rest of us sort the comfort of our mattresses!
Next morning, was called to B18 as the Jamaicans were kicking out a young Latvian inmate; reason? The only Colombian in the cell lied that he saw him in the early hours of 25th morning shagging or having lewd act with the bitch or the real villager (the only gay) in the centre! But we know, more inmates in the Latino camps are busy with themselves in the cover of darkness! But just that one has come out openly as David from little Britain; the only gay in the village!
After much reasoning, I knew they were lying, they wanted to kick him out as he’s owing them close to a grand from buying fags, dope and moonshine on credit!
Don’t blame him, but his creditors who don’t fcuking think before selling him their produce! Just because the crackhead Latvian used to live in England prior to Panama La Joya! They all believe he has money; same way they think about me and other Europeans, that’s one of the problem of being an European here! They all think we’re walking mints!
The Jamaicans who’re known to be openly against gays in their country, do same here; always argue with them on people’s rights to make their own choice, so long it’s not illegal in the country’s constitution! That all men and women have the right to live their lives so long they don’t infringe on the rights of others! Damn fools who can never and will never understand a thing!
The Latinos call each other names like puta, Maricon (gay), queco (queer)! But back in Europe, you don’t damn call anybody such names even if he or she is! Laws are laws! But to the Jamaicans everyone is a Bati Boy (name for gays in Jamaican Patio)! They fcuking hate me as I always tell them, they’re all idiots and uncivilised fools!
The Latvian was almost lynched if I wasn’t there and told them to reason; one, they should ask the other person whom they assumed Alex was shagging, how did Alex manage to shagged the guy while the cell was under lock and he, Alex inside and the other outside the cell, and finally, did Alex spiked their drinks? that none heard the groans and hummmmms of the two shagging!
The rest of the pavilion stood watching, people here are always waiting for a fight, so when they see two people with voice raised, they all stayed quietly and watch waiting for blows to be thrown or knives drawn!
Alex was thrown out, but I told them my mind, that they all conspired to kick him out!
While we were dealing with Alex, the lad who was supposed to be the one he shagged, actually got shagged by his cellmate; hummm! Always thought of that cellmate as a straight guy, we talked about cars and fashion, as I can’t have any proper discussion with anybody here! Didn’t know after few glasses or cups as there’s no glasses here of moonshine and popping some pills (Colombians are the new Dutch here; Estacy and name it comes from there)! Will become and start acting something else.
He and his mate (who happened to have a boy friend in cell A16, were caught in one of the passage hook shagging! Like wild fire, his news overtook that of Alex. All day on 25th, he didn’t come out, also his mate, continued into 26th, he stayed behind the curtain on his bed!
When I asked Alex, if he remembered what he did on the night of 24th/25th morning, poor boy had a blackout from moonshine and el polvo blanco; which I later found out, he’s been doing the white thing. Remembered him when I first got here, he was cleaned, timid and looked very innocent, but now, he has changed, all doped up! Seeing that, one’ll conclude that prison rarely change criminals, instead the end up picking new and bad habits. Those that’ll change, will do that because they don’t have money to sustained their habits or addictions! Like those thrown out, among whom was my Italian buddy, he went down too fast and bad! heard he now sells cigarettes there and they have access to proper rum! Good for him!
Throughout the festive season, water has been a big problem here, we stayed days without water! As the heavy rainfall destroyed so much, even some towns closed to us where left without water!
Most of the crazy ones couldn’t hold it longer as they did their things in plastic bags and threw them over d wire fence! Hope the Aligator men will step on them when still fresh and stinky!
Alex was finally exonerated after they asked the dude he was supposed to be shagging; the scene was like the witch hunting scene in the old Europe, they all Walked behind Alex to the guy’s cell, and when the guy said NO! By the way, who’ll want shag Alex with his rotten teeth like men from 14th Century England! They then changed their reason for throwing him out, that because he does el plovo blanco! Bloody liars! Told them they’re liars and cowards; well what are criminals before?
So Alex has joined the group of outcast or trouble makers in the little or storage room! They all sleep on the floor or hammock! Guess, the next batch of people who will be moved will be them!
Things got so worst for my friends and his gay cellmate, throughout the holiday season, the TV channels added insult to injury, had nothing better to show than films featuring gay scenes! At each time such scene comes up, catcalls and whistling were made, his name was heard all over the pavilion! Even at a time in one of the scene, heard my name; guess it was the long 9 yard! The Big Black guy giving a big hug to a follow inmate! Took it with a pinch of salt! Can’t raise a storm over people I know talk without thinking.
31st Night wasn’t as 24th! Since the incidents of 24th night, bet, if we are allowed another night of binge drinking and partying, someone would’ve gotten pregnant as the lads here will damn poke into anything after few glasses of our local brews; guess from now on, the usual coming together into one cell will ceased as most always end in fight (not nice when the cell is under locked) it will be like cage fight; it’s the actual cage fight!
31st came and we stepped into 2011! Healthy and of sound mind, but still behindBars!!!
Wasn’t all that a joyous and festive as 24th night as cells were locked early! But was better as we all ate, drank and chatted among us! But the year didn’t quite end on a good note for me as I lost my little bag with money! That was all I had left! must have dropped it in my cell, and one my mates must have picked it! Asked and they all denied! Well now I know I have to be careful even with those I live with!
Since, they can go as far as poisoning fellow inmates and can caused bodily harm for a few dollars! Bloody Latinos!
1st of January 2011, Up to calls and texts from friends and loved ones who had stood by me through all these ordeals, and from Schat who has never stopped being a massive support. Spoke with the kids, my eldest daughter so grown up, knows so much than I thought of her! Asked questions that I have to think twice before answering! Bless her! My son, into race cars, computer games and want a real monster truck he can drive on the road! But he made it clear both of us will drive and the girls won’t! And my little one, should enter her into any contortionists contest as she’s very good in twisting her legs, getting her toes into her mouth! Now is the stage; everything goes into her mouth! Long to hold her and give her a Daddy’s kisses of assurance! That I won’t leave her or anyone of them for such a long time!
Nice how the Latinos celebrates the New Year! Many came out in their finest! At first was a bit confused as I didn’t catch it! The only time most guys dresses so nice is when going out on commissions or appointments! But now, they believe you got look good into the new year!
Some believe dressing in new or clean clothes brings in luck! Well, if I’ll wish them anything, it’s those waiting to get to court, get that on time and those waiting to get home! Get home ASAP! And finally, Panama Govt should extend the two-thirds to foreigners and not just the Nationals alone!
Talking of changes, spoke with my Italian buddy, good news as he said, he has turned a new leaf! No more El polvo blanco and moonshine! Hope it last! Still keeping the same lawyer who is asking for more money and for doing nothing!
Glad as I have fired him and gotten a legal aid one, the Latinos understands the system pretty well, they rarely bother to get paid lawyers! As they know lawyers in Panama and the rest of the Latin America nations are all leeches and vampires!
Expecting so much this year! Guess the happiest news so far is getting my sentence and also couple of days ago! Knowing that my repatriation application has been sent in on the Panama side, and also the course I applied for from back home has arrived!
More to keep me busy, hope the Panamanian authority approves my application, then the next hurdle will be back home! They also have to approve it before I could be sent back home to continue my time and sentence! Can’t wait for such a moment! At least will be close to my loved ones and friends! My family can visit me! Helps the mind!
Damn, being locked up in faraway land can be mind-wrecking! Hope I come out strong! Well, will definitely come out with a strong will!
Since Christmas eve search, we’ve had two more searches and my phone had survived both! The second; from those who saw them coming, one came to our gate and told the cop on duty to leave the gate unlock and lock the door to our Pavilion, thus, trapping those outside so they can get it! Did as he was told. Next thing, they all sprinted as fast as they can but our sentries sent out the signals. In the gym, dropped all I was doing and raced to my cell to my phone and had it stashed! Many were left outside, but their mates helped with the stashing. The joy of the cops is to take us unaware, but since they’re all corrupt, doubt if it will work. As one among them will always tell an inmate from here. It’s like a Cat and mouse game, catch me if you can!lol!
This search, I believe was a target search as they came and focused on certain cells! They know from informants among us who is doing what and who just got things in. Well on that day when they left, rumours went around that the two new guys working with the welders on the top of the cells were cops or working with cops! While inmates were climbing and stashing, they believed the two workers were watching them! Well, those who lost phones or chargers to the cops! hope they accept my condolences!
The third search; heard the signal from our sentries, they sit all day on the top of the cells either smoking or talking! They keep watch of mass movements of the Iguana Men (Cops dresses in Green here)! And sends out signals when they see any suspicious movement towards our Pavilion! Once the numbers are more than three or four! We know they’re up to something mischievous! We ain’t!lol!
The third search so far, they came in and we left, no Pat-search, they said, they’re here to check the floors of each cell for tunnels! Instead of searching, they had drinks and food free from their men! If anyone was digging a tunnel, they’ll be the first to know as many Sapos (Spanish for Frogs; but used to described an Informant) are here.
Heard how the Nationals dug tunnels in their cells and most cells are just sand as the concrete had been broken! Much are left when there is a search here; things like vegetable oil and metal spoons, in the Panamanians Pavilions when those things are seen, they are taken. As they can be used as weapons.
I have seen many nationals with liquid burns on their body, when askedn they said it was in their cell! Can’t imagine that happening here! Well one don’t know the mind of these Latino! Can go berserk at any moment! That’s worse than knife wound!
Corruptions in the prison system in Panama is so widespread, cops and inmates rubbed shoulders in businesses and inmates even cook for cops! Since I cook and eat together with three Dominicanos; two of them got a thing with one of the cops and they always make sure he gets his breakfast and dinner from us! How easy it would have been to spike his food!
Many like him, will walk into our pavilion, eat and drink from inmates. Damn, guess there’s no where in the world where cops have such a close bond with inmates like here in Panama!
The water crisis has really hit us hard, slept couple of days without taking bathe, one has to hold the urge to use the loo, as no water to flush after! When it rained, the muddy water from the dug up pit outside serves as source of water for flushing d toilet!
Had heap of clothes and underwear unwashed for several days!
Finally get to washed them on Friday when enough water came!
Had more fifteen 2ltrs Coca cola plastic bottles to hold water!
After the death of an inmate couple of weeks ago in the Nationals side, we start getting bottles of mineral water from the Govt! Not bad as they thought of us! Won’t be for long! All we want now is better food, better medicals, cells’re over-crowded! Guess we’ll only get those things in our dreams!
The President has gotten his fair share of the WikiLeaksgate! Many of the cables were about him and his cartel; his cousin was arrested in one of the Latin American countries for money laundering, guess proceeds from the Narco trade! And Tocumen int’l Airport was mentioned as a gateway for millions of Narco Dollars coming in and the whole lot of corrupt officials!
One will wonder what are they doing that is different from what Noriega did, He was labelled a Dictator and Martinelli now is labelled a Grocer since he has chains of supermarkets in the country! Love American media, they know how bring one down easily!
From my point of view; the west will turn a blind eye to corruptions, human right abuses in order to protect their countries business interest! What has happened in Tunisia is an eye opener to such policy! The blind will be taken off the eyes of the masses soon!
Finally, another massive one that is rocking the country now, the Govt has lost control of inside of prison! Most national’s pavilion, guards and official dare not walk in as they will be carried out in bodybags!
This week, the Tocumen detention centre was on the news; the kids, most in for minor crimes and many for arms possession, seen some back in Renacer doing time for murder they committed as minors!
The youths were demonstrating for the poor conditions, the food always comes late and when they eventually comes, they ‘re all rotten!
Since the directors of centres has no power over inmates and over the cops under him, he gives out orders, but the cops do what they will or choose to!
One can have a permit signed by the director for certain item, but the cops at the post can decide not to let it through! That’s how it works, but with money under the table, same item will make its way to one’s cell.
During, the protest, the cops who were on camera (unaware) drop few canisters of tear gas into the unit and could be heard on camera saying “Die, you sons of B*tches”, from one version; the kids trying to extinguish the canister with mattress accidentally set it ablaze! 6 of the kids were taken to the hospital with some having more than 3rd degree burns! A 15 year old died on the following and 3rd day after the incident one more died, while the news was on, guess the caster was on same breathe, another died!
From my first day at the transitional centre, I knew Panama has nothing for her youths who had gone astray, no programs in place to rehabilitate them.
Renacer where we were was supposed to be a rehabilitation centre, we, the foreigners were the ones running the facilities there. The panamanians were all about walking with knives in their pants! I believe the Govt like most in the west has failed their youths!
The wind and waves of the Tunisia revolution and cry for change will blow down here. From what I heard about Panamanians, they’re too lazy to fight or sacrifice for any course! But good at robbery and harming with weapons, guess same with all Latino Americans!
The news of those kids were painful and very sad, how a country will treat her own in such inhumane way!
Over here in La Joya, our Pavilion is the best, when any Govt official is on visit, they always bring them in as they can walk safely among us without anyone jumping on them!
Money are collected from each inmates for the maintenance and cleaning of the pavilion! If one does not comply he’s eventually sent out!
Lately, money has been sources of aggressiveness among inmates as many done things in secret, but when it turns sour, they all come to the open and voices are raised! Then we know who is doing what!
More news on corruption in the Govt; scandal is rocking them as ever! One will think of some Nomadic tribes men settling deals with payments in flesh and blood (using animals or what they have)! Weeks ago, a herd of cattle were used to pay Govt officials as part of settlement for drug deals! That’s a trendy way to do business! Police got work to do, arrest the herd and bring them into custody! That’s news, made in Panama; The Banana Republic!
Yesterday’s night, 15th Jan, was surprised when I saw Teacher allowed same guys who fought the last time they had all night drinking session into the same cell for another night of drunkenness! Still counted as a freshman here! Got no say in the way things are done!
They partied all night with music and someone has access to bring in proper liquor from the street! Whoever he is, got some people in high places!
Later found out it was my buddy; he’s called Hulk as that’s the only way one can describe him, but he ain’t green! He is Enormous! Gym and steroid freak!
Being here not too long but gotten enough contact to bring in whatever he wants! Steroids, liquor and just name it!
He’s addicted to steroids as he has offered me on many occasions, but ain’t dabbling into that; one can’t access to painkillers, talk less of proper medical attention when one is really ill. The Hulk, collapsed once as he has enlarged heart due to prolonged usage of steroids, same conditions as a compatriot of mine who is also a steroid addict! Once told me he gets his shots every week!
Well, I should be alright with protein and other supplements! While watching my health!
Since the water crisis, at one time had to bathe with 2ltr of water! Most time, have to wait after workout till late for hope of water! When there’s none! Pick up my coca cola 2ltr bottle and clean up!
Well, it’s an experience, but a bitter one, especially if one is used to life in the west!
And many inmates are becoming more aggressive, don’t know why? One of the Colombians dope dealer fought with a Cuban old man, old enough to be his grand father! Cracked open his head! Hope he will be taken out as he has just broke the golden rule; Thou shalt not fight in Pavilion 6!
Finally, my mixed blessings, been smiling and crying deep inside after receiving and reading my soon to be 6yrs old daughter’s email to me; gave her a song that I love so much “Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carsisle”. They all like the song! Her email brought tears from the depth of me, how she was able to composed the mail, with schat helping her spell “Restaurant”, she did all herself! So proud of her! And she wants me home soon! And when coming back, I should buy her a special gift!
I hope this journey will end soon! And my boy, angry because i’m not coming home! All he want are Monster Trucks and Race Cars; actually want the real ones and not tiny ones that Schat always get for him! Being a little rebel, always saying opposites of everything! Bless him!
Hope I learn my lessons well!
My keyword here has always been watchful and vigilant as that is needed for one’s survival in a place like this! One has to use all his wits to live through the Bars of La Joya!
Panama in the News;
The Tocumen Juvenile Detention centre problems;
Water and medical problems in La Joya and La Joyita!
Corruption in Mins. of publico; herd of cattle received as part payment for drugs!
And check WikiLeaks for Martinelli and his cronies, El Cartel de los Sapos!
“The Measure of a Man is not wether he falls, but wether he rises again from the fall”