Unidad III

A day in “ La Redonda.”

Image taken by Cosme Velazquez.

I would’ve never thought that I would visit a prison in Argentina. Last Thursday my classmates and I had the opportunity to tour one in Rosario. Unidad III is a minimum-security prison of only men that’s located on Zeballos 2951. A popular nickname that the local people call it is the La Redonda. This prison has close to 300 inmates, but the prison makes sure that they don’t have any inmates that are sexual predators.

Image taken by Cosme Velazquez.

The prison used to be a military base and it makes sense by looking at its architecture. One of the things that stood out to me the most was where some of the inmates were staying because they weren’t exactly jail cells. They’re currently staying in a big room and each had their little space. Their spaces were separated, but some looked like tents that homeless people build. Some have pictures on the walls, others have their soccer team’s logo and only a few had a television.

I had great conversations with some inmates and their kindness really surprised me as well. They were actually excited to see my classmates and I. Some were surprised that I could speak Spanish fluently and when I told them that I was Mexican they looked amongst each other and laughed. They gave me a hard time and we started talking about soccer national teams and tequila. I instantly bonded with them and I didn’t look at them as criminals, but as people. I believe sometimes people forget about those who are in prison and fail to recognize they are still humans.

Prisoner Matías Reales. Image taken by Cosme Velazquez.

Matías Reales has been in prison for eight years for commiting a robbery, but is scheduled to be released this coming October. Reales had much to say, but when he told me that he got shot in the leg with a pellet shotgun in a soccer stadium one time he reinforced the idea that there is a lot of violence between soccer fans in Argentina. Reales has been part of fights after games between Newell’s Boys and Central. These are the two soccer clubs in Rosario and when they play it’s called “El Classico Rosarino.” There’s a lot of passion in these games and many times regardless if there’s a win or a draw there will be violence amongst fans. Reales believes it’s unfortunate because soccer is supposed to be a beautiful way of bringing people together. Because of violence parents have to question whether or not to take their children fearing fights amongst fans and the police. It was a small conversation, but I enjoyed talking to Reales. I truly believe that my classmates and I did some good touring the prison. I believe it was just interesting for the prsioners to see outsiders especially Americans to be interested in the place they call home. As we were leaving one prisnoer statrted to play music and it was Reggaeton. I looked back and I started to dance and sing along becuase I knew the song. The prisnoers looked at eacthother in disbelief again and laughed some more. They just picked on me a little bit more and reffrerd to me as one funny Mexicano.