A traffic jam and continuous road construction are catalysts for madness. Idiots fighting other perceived idiots over wearing and not wearing of masks. We observe these things among other “asshole generalities” but we are way beyond some seriously horrific things in our lives. I would dare to say that we are beyond sheltered.
August 24, 2013 was an uneventful day in my life. Uneventful enough that I don’t remember anything that terrible or wonderful about it. I had a decent job and wasn’t in any legal trouble, (I was causing my own health problems but that is a dummy we should tackle at some other time). I know a few other people that feel the same way. A year turns into another uneventful year. But this year was horrific for a few people.
The inhabitants of Palmasola prison in Bolivia saw things that I could not fathom. It is one thing that they are packed in a prison that is crowded beyond normal capacity, with many poorer residents enduring spartanesque conditions, it is another that they experienced a prison riot beyond what US prisons could birth.
I thought it would be improbable that inmates could use propane tanks as flamethrowers to fight other inmates. I would have never dreamed of having full sized machetes and comparable edged weapons in the hands of known violent prisoners. I also think that it would take a movie producer to create a world where young children stay with their parents in prison but this prison has familial habitation rules.
Ignoring political prisons in places like North Korea, where imprisoned families were hidden, Palmasola can be visited. It has a city within a city feel to it. But it has a law like no other. Drugs, murder, and prostitution were rampant at one time. No guards were in the inside, the guards only serving to keep people in and not out. Like many prisons, it had its own political systems. (I had read, somewhat unreliably, that many of Bolivia’s jails had elections and a few paying political offices inside of the jails).
In the country that I had grown to love, I could not fathom a world where the outside world would have little to know influence on how prisoners were “punished”. The American penal system plans on many of its prisoners “leaving” the system. But in Bolivia, it is up to you to get through it. (You also pay for the vast majority of your stay).
Watching thirty of your cellmates die in a fiery riot is not something I could dream of. I also don’t want to believe that a war party could crash through a wall to fight another squad of opponents, bearing instruments of brutality.
I have had horrific nightmares with visions of faceless people murdering people among me. I had seen a war that never existed with bombings that didn’t stop. I knew barbarians that seemed to never understand any type of decorum but I could never imagine a war where a “city state” of anarchic proportions would boil over like this.
I will painfully sleep tonight; as I did before, knowing the survivors of that hellscape carried on for the rest of their lives with the memory of searing flesh, dying children, and soulless knights fueled by cocaine. The brutal realities speak louder than what my mind presents at night.