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31 de Marzo del 2022
English
Lectura: 5 minutos
31 de Marzo del 2022
María Amelia Espinosa Cordero

Abogada con experiencia en políticas públicas y sociales, cofundadora y directora general de Fundación IR, "Iniciativas para la Reinserción"

About the 79 dead people that no one cries for
1

Photography: latercera.com

 

More than ten years of political changes have gone by -not public policy changes-, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested and disinvested in an increasingly weak and fearful institutional framework.

In Ecuador there are 38,547 inmates locked up in 53 prisons, surviving on a public budget allowance that allocates less than 3 dollars for their daily meals. There are 38,547 people sleeping where there is only room for 29,993; 38,547 people -excluding hundreds of adolescents- guarded by 486 prison officers: 1 for every 80, when the recommended ratio is 1 for every 10. Only 22,777 people have an enforceable sentence; 27.64% of the convicted population has committed drug-related crimes and 26.50% crimes against property.

To recalculate these numbers for those who are less mathematically inclined: 0,97 cents for breakfast, 0,97 cents for lunch, 0,97 cents for dinner. To compound these problems, 8,554 people sleeping God knows over who or what -if God has ever walked through our prisons-. 1,460 prison officers working 8-hour shifts, which is equivalent to 486 officers working simultaneously. 14,714 people have not been proven guilty but are imprisoned (without counting offenders or people detained for enforcement measures). 54.14% of the total prison population committed crimes without the intention of harming anyone.

We have been taught to defend victims and judge aggressors, without understanding who plays each role. Clearly, in Nobody's country, the roles have been reversed.

Aggressors dress up as assembly members, judges, public officials who support the criminalization of poverty, the demonization of people whose lives are marked by disaffection, and physical and psychological violence. The popular aspirations promoted by the media, where the determining factor of [in]equality is income: “-If I don't have what I see, I'm worthless.”

The poor, the foreigners, the mules that roam in our prisons have parents, siblings, they have children. The excluding social stratification that protects us and makes us proud is unceremoniously condemning them to hate us. And hatred does not forgive.

We, the aggressors, walk freely, demanding from governments in power more security in our streets and more prisoners in our jails -as if the relationship was proportional-. We ignore that in one, two, five years, the prison population will come across us, across our children, and will unavoidably have to ask us for charity or steal from us. There's no other choice.

The viralization of videos of what happened on February 23 and 24 in Cotopaxi, Cuenca and Guayas condemns us not to forget, to take responsibility, to assume those dead as our own, in order to humanize ourselves and feel compassion for them and for the thousands of relatives who suffer in the shadows.

The poor, the foreigners, the mules that roam in our prisons have parents, siblings, they have children. The excluding social stratification that protects us and makes us proud is unceremoniously condemning them to hate us. And hatred does not forgive.

More than ten years of political changes have gone by -not public policy changes-, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested and disinvested in an increasingly weak and fearful institutional framework. This has seen the prison administration transferred to mafias whose ability to control and command establishes dynamics that force inmates to join the law of the strongest. He who does not shoot to kill, barely survives.

The current president has the historical possibility of apologizing to these dozens of dead by commuting penalties -not crimes nor the obligation to make amends- of people with sentences of less than 36 months, of women victims of drug trafficking -detained while the drug business does not stop its course-, of older adults with catastrophic illnesses to whom the State cannot guarantee medical care in confinement.

Including them in corporate social responsibility programs -so in vogue today- can allow you, the worthy business community, to align your communication campaigns to the co-responsibility that the sustainable development goals require. Win-win never goes out of style.

…79 dead under State custody, in full view of those of us who are lucky enough to be outside. And no, not only that no one grieves them, but their deaths are celebrated by the “upper social class”, clean of sin because they have not dirtied their hands with blood. No, gentlemen, to celebrate that the prisoners kill each other, between four walls that prevent seeing and discerning the structures and models that lead them to exercise such levels of violence is to be accomplices; and the accomplice -in any penal system- is also guilty.

*The article was first published on March 31st, 2021, after the massacres in Ecuadorian prisons.

** The author is the winner of the “Jorge Mantilla Ortega” national journalism award, 2021, in the Opinion category, for her columns in Plan V.

GALERÍA
About the 79 dead people that no one cries for
 


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