Bob Marley (Part 2 by Guest Blogger Mark Nelson)
This is a continuation of Mark’s story about his time in prison in Venezuela.
In the morning the gang boss sent one of his men to fetch me. He was on the roof of the prison. He pointed across at another wing of the prison, and told me they were at war. He then pulled out a 9mm pistol and started shooting. This was my introduction to life in a Venezuelan prison.
Over the next few months, I met lots other Europeans: Dutch, Italian, French, Polish, Estonian. The Venezuelans kept all the foreign prisoners together in one prison. We were all mixed in with the locals, except they slept in the general cell, whereas the Europeans slept in boogaloos. We had to pay for these cells. The guy running my wing asked me for €300. I told him it wasn’t possible – I had no money and no-one on the outside supporting me. So he pulled out his gun.
I said, “If you want to shoot, you shoot, but there will be lots of problems with the guards.”
He knew that I got money every three months from Prisoners Abroad. King Kong told me that I could sleep in his boogaloo.
The guy then wanted money from King Kong, so I told him “You’re not the boss, you’re just his workman. Let’s go and talk to the boss.” Thankfully, the boss let me sleep there until I managed to get some money from my family to get my own cell – which was about 3 metres by 2 metres.
Being in prison was a whole new experience for me. There were bundles of drugs everywhere: cocaine, marijuana, speed, crack. The police, prison guards and prisoners were all in it together. There was a lot of corruption.
King Kong and I, together with some of the other foreigners, all worked together. We had a routine for meals – who cooked, who prepared. A Dutch guy who was fluent in Spanish helped me learn the language. I also met a local woman, who was visiting her brother in the prison, and she got me a Spanish text book. It’s not like a British prison – the visitors are free to mingle with the prisoners – there were even rooms for couples!
The prisoners are also free to wander where they want to – there are no guards or locked doors inside the prison. This could be a problem, as some of the local gangs liked to walk around looking to make trouble with foreigners. They saw foreigners as weak prey. I saw gangs walk up to foreigners who are just sitting down and start hitting them with their guns, for no reason. It happened to me one time.
One guy called Thomas came up to me and started calling me every name he could think of.
I tried to stay calm, and said “Que pasa?” – what’s up?
He responded by hitting me with his gun. I reacted by pushing him away, and he fell over. Some of the other gang members came over to find out what was going on. I told them that Thomas was a big problem, causing trouble. I told them that if he kept on troubling me it would end with him and me fighting – which it did. He pointed his gun in my face, but I managed to knock the gun away and punch him in the face. The others managed to stop the fight, as fighting wasn’t allowed without the permission of the boss.
The boss came, and said to me, “Do you want to fight him?”
“Yeah, I wanna fight,” I said.
Click here for Part 1
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