“Lamento del recluso”, Los Mirlos

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Last year I taught a writing class in Lurigancho, the prison mentioned at the beginning of this classic Mirlos song. It was one of the more terrifying and disconcerting places I’ve ever seen. Lurigancho was originaly built to house some two thousand prisoners; now it’s home to more than eleven thousand. Inside, walking around, it feels like the end of the world has already happened. The prison is officially divided into twenty cell blocks, but in reality, there are twenty-one–the twenty-first block was built by the inmates themselves, in order to deal with the overcrowding. I remember very little about the class itself, but I do recall the heat (it was a humid, endless summer) and the noise (an ungodly hammering–like the rest of Lima, Lurigancho is undergoing a construction boom) and the relief I felt every time I passed out of those gates. — juancho

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