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Published: February 1st 2009
entry to the jail
Everything is possible. Nothing is certain
South American Motto
This place is by far the weirest place I have ever been to in my life. Wierd doesn't even come close. If I had to define I would have to summarise with words like; bizzare, surreal, incomprehensive, corrupt, misguided, unlawful, harrowing, fearful, organised, unrighteous and wrong. Yet it is a tourist attraction and one that if you are in the area, I have to recommend that you see. The tour round the prison is utterly illegal but the guards dont mind as they get half of the money you pay to go round. If you hang about the front of the jail you are greeted by the infamous Kenny who then ushers you inside and though the security. When inside you are taken to the gym area where your guide, an inmate, tells you about eveything in the jail and what you're going to see. There is also a famous book called Marching Powder that was written inside the jail that everyone recommends you read.
What we saw was just bizzare. Families living inside the jail as its cheaper for them to move in with their husband than it is for
the start of the tour
them to live outside the prison. Whole families, children and a complete industry of ways to make money inside. There were stalls and food and even toys being made from tin cans being manufactured and sold outside the pirson. You need money to survive here. If you want your case heard at court, you have to be able to pay for it. If you have more money, you get heard quicker. If you have no money, you dont get heard at all. The whole system inside is run by the innmates, and the old ones. The guards take no role at all, it is self policed. Stragngely it works. It has too though as there are children everywhere and they have to be safe as there are murderers and peadophiles inside. The longest term you can serve is 30 years and no matter what else you do, you cant have a longer scentance. So here, people do literally get away with murder.
Bolivia is by far te most corrupt country I have ever been to. In the jail itsef they make cocaine and get the guards ot sell it on the street. The police catch people using
playing with the weights
everything was creative as nothing is provided for the inmates
and if you can't bribe them to get free, you end up in the jail making the stuff you were put away for. The police then sell the drugs back to the inmates for half price! It is one of the most crazy things I have ever heard or seen. The whole tour was just wrong and being a part of it by paying to see it was wrong too, but it has to be seen to be believed. Even at the end of the tour, when you think it cant get any more surreal, they take you into one of the cells and offer you "a white christmas" if you want to sample their goods. We all declined.
I dont really know what else to say about this place. The whole experiance left you kinda numb after and what I did have a problem with was knowing that my mmoney to take the tour went in the pockets of criminals and yet there I am walking past beggars on the street without giving. Its just all backwards.
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