Notes from Captivity XX
Violation of Correspondence IV, Final Chapter
by Pablo Pacheco Avila
It was not yet afternoon when I was taken to the last jail cell of the ‘Vivac’ section. This dungeon is the most notorious amongst common prisoners due to its inhumane conditions. Penate ordered that I be left with my belongings because I had assured him I would accuse the prison authorities of theft in the event that I lose even the most minimal of things, even if it was something as simple as a pencil.
Many prisoner stories I had heard told of their experiences in the Vivac cells, and to be honest, up to that moment I had thought that these prisoners were exaggerating. As soon as the guard shut the door of my new dungeon I was petrified.
I would look at my hands, my feet, and my legs but I could not see anything. Absolutely nothing. I began to patiently breath in and out. I knew I had to develop nerves of steal if I wanted to survive this test imposed on me by destiny and the thought police.
After a few minutes, I noticed that there was a very small light emanating from one of the corners of the cell. Much to my surprise, it was coming from the floor and I was automatically bent on trying to find its source.
The more I came closer to the light the more I could smell a very strong odor- it smelled like urine and feces. It became so strong that I took off the shirt I was wearing and covered my nose. I never knew that in order to see myself I had to go up to a prison “toilet”.
The cell I was closed in was 4 meters in width and 4 in height. It consisted of a concrete bench to sleep on and very uncomfortable walls which did not allow inmates to lean on them.
My months in captivity trained me to react with a positive instinct and that is what I automatically did. I lay on the floor next to my small bag and began to devise a plan to get out of there the least affected as possible. The option which I found was to pray. To pray to God.
That night, I could not sleep because of the mosquitoes, the roaches, and the rodents. In addition, it did not help that my thoughts were not there, but instead they were 350 kilometers away, with my 4 year old son and my loving wife. They were suffering from the separations inflicted on us by hate and intolerance. They were the ones bearing the heaviest burden of my captivity.
Cruelty is limitless in the prisons of totalitarian regimes. To damage my psychological state, the guards did not put any water for me throughout the whole night. Neither did they in the morning and in the afternoon they only did so for 30 minutes. The precious liquid I was to drink was coming from the same hole where prisoners defecated and urinated. The tube with the water would come up from there. The entire cell is designed to humiliate the prisoner to the maximum. In fact, in many cases prisoners tried to take their own lives.
I spent three days without showering. I was trying to save the most water possible. I would use it to clean my face and drink, sip by sip.
On the final day of my punishment my nerves were destroyed. The mental torture, the odor, the horrible personal hygiene, the lack of communication with others, and the darkness had taken their toll on me. Luckily, I did not show this to the guards. Nor did I demand medical assistance.
On Monday morning they took me to the office of Diosdado More. The director of “Aguica” tried to dialogue with me, but from the initial moment I let him know that I had no intention or desire to chat. I just needed to know if they would comply with our demands and what would happen to me, for my punishment was apparently over.
I was then taken back to “The Polish Cell” , the same one I had been in for 6 months.
Two days later, the new re-educator of the prison showed up to my cell. He brought newspapers, cards, a planner for conjugal visits, medical assistance, and the rest of the things we had demanded.
This strike represented the beginning of various protests to demand our rights.