How much do you know about the “prison of the end of the world”?
Our country has the southernmost city of the planet: Ushuaia. Can you imagine how hostile a prison can be in that place? Just as the Russians sent troubled prisoners to Siberia, in our country they were sent to what was known as “the prison of the end of the world”.
The story tells that, although it was a high-security prison, there was no wall separating convicts from the free: Tierra del Fuego was virtually unpopulated, so it was the island itself that isolated the prisoners. You could not go out or enter if you were not by boat (imagine swimming in those waters). There were several leaks, but most of them came back because they were freezing or starving. In fact, if the escapees did not return within 72 hours, they were considered dead.
Building the prison
The construction began in 1902, and was carried forward by the same prisoners (where did would sleep as long as there was nothing yet?). It was only in 1920 that it ended. The state made the decision to build a prison on that wasteland not for a a question of cruelty to inmates but for a matter of sovereignty: the The only way they could get someone to live there was to force them. The prison had five wards and 386 cells of two by two (I did not I imagine nothing more terrible) with a small window. It is said that there came to be more than 600 detainees, resulting in more than one person in some of the cells.
In addition to ordinary prisoners, the “prison of the end of the world” housed political prisoners (another common point with Siberia). Among the most famous were the multiple homicidal Mateo Banks, Cayetano Santos Godino (better known as “the little eared“) and Simon Radowitzky, the Russian anarchist who in 1909 killed the head of the Argentine Police Ramón Falcón. There is a myth that was never fully clarified that says that another illustrious intern was Carlos Gardel (in the current museum there is a cell dedicated to the alleged stay of the Creole thrush). It can no longer be confirmed because much of the documentation was lost due to the work of time and laziness. The end of prison came in 1947 when Perón closed it and transformed it into Naval Base: a much more humane destination for its ice cream walls. Today it is a museum, but it is preserved, in the dark, a pavilion such as it was left in the middle of the last century. I don’t even want to think about the ghosts that will live in those walls.
Hipólito Azema nació en Buenos Aires, en los comienzos de la década del 80. No se sabe desde cuándo, porque esas cosas son difíciles de determinar, le gusta contar historias, pero más le gusta que se las cuenten: quizás por eso transitó los inefables pasillos de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Una vez escuchó que donde existe una necesidad nace un derecho y se lo creyó.
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