The Argentinean prisons are quit notorious for horrible conditions that violate human rights such as not enough resources like water, food and medical care, overcrowding and in 2008 the global NGO listed Argentina as one of 81 countries where torture is still practiced. Suicides, riots and gang fights have claimed a staggering number of lives as well as prison fires that have ragged out of control killing many. Many have been there for years without having received a sentence. At one point this prison was amongst the worst in the world. It is maximum security and we had to clear at least 9 huge gates and security points, (while carrying over 600lbs of equipment) up and down stairs to enter multiply patios. It was a really cold day, like 35 degrees.
At one patio the prisoners brought out a table and chairs and made us this drink called, “Matte”, it’s basically hot water on strong herbs and everyone drinks it in Argentina (even though I thought it was terribly bitter, I was able to swallow, smile and thank them while really hoping they did not make any more). It is a beautiful memory doing my Irish step dance here at this prison. My steps echoed through the court and all the men erupted in applause and cheering part way through.
The prison warden brought us into his office when we were done to serve us hot coffee and thank us extensively. He told us he had traveled all around the world and had never seen anything like what we did. He gave my dad a beautiful mug as a gift.