Leftovers, pay dirt

06_20canastadefrutasImage: Canasta de frutas de Botero

Here in Canaleta Prison, in the Cuban province of Ciego de Ávila, as in the prison in Morón where I was previously housed, an excellent deal exists, for some. I have become aware that some of the guards prevent, at all costs, the prisoners taking their food from the galley.

The prisoners are in the habit of trying to take the disgusting food from the galleys so that they can find ways to improve it, adding flavor, spices, slices of tomato or anything else, just to make it digestible. So when I became aware of the guards’ practice, I became suspicious of this extreme behavior!

Besides being deprived of our freedom, the food here is unpalatable and the prisoners are only trying to find ways to stomach it. But the answer to my suspicion was right in front of my eyes. After every shift, I saw the civil servants leaving with their slop buckets full of the leftovers.

As it turns out, the food that is wasted or left uneaten becomes bribes for the warden. Since it happens quite often that there are leftovers, owing only to it’s truly inhuman foulness, the civil servants get free reign over the leftovers and they are used to feed their ‘darling’ pigs.

It’s important to mention too that in this jail, ‘supper’ is served at 4 pm forcing many prisoners to take it as is. This is also the time when the day guards are getting ready to leave.

Thanks to my curiosity I given my fellow captives something to meditate on. I have figured out how the guards have managed through the financial crisis that permeates Cuba, making out of it a very lucrative business for them. I know it is extra money on top of the pittance the guards make working at the prison, since I know many of them sell my leftovers. So, in 2009, leftovers have become a lucrative enterprise in Canaleta Prison. If I didn’t blow the whistle on these people, who would?

Pablo Pacheco: Canaleta Prison

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