Hear My Testimony: Maraia Teresa Tula, Human Rights Activist of El Salvador

By María Teresa Tula; Lynn Stephen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12

THE WOMEN'S PRISON

When we arrived at the prison, something quite amusing occurred. It seemed that the prisoners had heard that the new arrivals had betrayed all of their compañeras and were making press announcements and videos. Violeta, Michele, and Elena—the prisoners—thought we were them. The women had organized themselves to beat up these stool pigeons. They had chains and sticks ready.

They were surprised when they saw us. I had been doing work in prison so people knew me there already. They greeted us with a loud round of applause. They knew me and shouted, "There goes the compañera from CO-MADRES." I felt better because I knew the prisoners would help me. There wouldn't be so much repression there because the jail was organized. *

Within the prison there is an organization of political prisoners. COPPES has different committees for food, cleaning, health, and to take care of women who were tortured before they came to prison. Many women arrive who can't sleep. They scream and are afraid to trust anyone for fear they will be tortured again. The first day they gave me food and a sleeping pill. The next day I had to go to the prison clinic. The doctor was from the government Human Rights Commission. The women warned me about this man. They told me he was bad news. Many women

____________________
*
Political prisoners in El Salvador's jails were among the best organized in the world. The jails were viewed by many as an important sector to organize as part of the movement toward change.

-159-

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