Saturday, 26 March 2011

Ushuaia prison

Passage written in 1925 by Martin Chaves, one of the appointed prison guards

"Convicts had to undergo a medical examination. When the departure day came, watchmen were in charge of informing prisoners about this after supper. The whole Penitentiary experimented a silence full of fear, anguish and suspense. Finally, transfers depended on the number of 'chosen convicts' that could be lodge in the Prison of Ushuaia.
The next step was to get them to prepare a 'bundle' with their clothes and utensils to be then led to the grating yard where they were examined in case they carried forbidden articles such as weapons and tools. Once they went through this revision, shackles were put joined between then by an iron chain or bar- round their ankles so that they could not pace farther than 15 to 20 centimeters. Three hammer blows on every iron; nails must have been three heavy blows on the heart of every convict waiting in formation and on those that were waiting in their cells for a change of destination.
It is said that most hard and insensitive convicts looked at the blacksmith with arrogance while he was doing his work, but once they walked a few meters their spirit broke down as they begun to feel how iron hurt their skin, how limited their movements were and realized what their fate was"