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Review: Prison Writing of Latin America by Joey Whitfield

joey whitfield

Joey is a teacher of mine at MLANG in Cardiff University. This is his first book. It explores prison writing in Latin America and looks at abolitionism of the penal system and draws on some really rather delicate themes that expose the dark brutality of prisons in a developing continent where sometimes human rights can be totally thrown out of the window. There is a schism in the penal code between political prisoners and criminals and Joey looks at how these two groups affect each other’s progress through the system. Often it is the poorest and racially discriminated against that suffer the worst fates in the prison system. Poor, indigenous women victims of Reagan’s War on Drugs when Latin American governments need to satisfy captivity quotas in order to get their dollar funding are the ones which are locked away as they are easy targets for a corrupt police force. The first chapter looks at political writing within the prison system. I was totally blown away by the imprisoned Costa Rican author José León Sánchez. This man was a true victim of the system and was wrongly given a life imprisonment term on the barren prison island colony of San Lucas, condemned to carrying a ball and chain around with him whilst manacled all day. In the face of adversity, Sánchez became literate and his work ‘La isla de los hombres solos’ catapulted him into national and international fame, his original work confounding all the critics. Chapter 2 of Whitfield is very dark and difficult to read. It explores homosexual love in the prison system, from rape through to desperate displays of machisimo. The men turn to each other in a way of confronting the system. This chapter looks mainly at imprisoned Cubans. Chapter 3 is brutal in the way it describes the prison massacres of Senderoso Luminosa captives who fight wars with the Peruvian authorities from behind the door, all in defence of their leftist communist ideologies. Some of the worst prison massacres in history occurred in Peru during the 1980s at the peak of the Senedero resistance guerrilla war with the state. Chapter 4 is about the War on Drugs where the Reagan administration turns its Southern hemisphere politics away from leftist insurgents and criminalises the narcotics industry, creating a new criminal class. Comando Vermelho (Red Command) is Brasil are a drug-trafficking criminal gang that originate in prisons…

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Landlocked – Mental Health in the UK and the Prevention of International Travel, Translation and Foreign Language Education

air new zealand

On the Second of April 1997, at the point of my first contact with the Mental Health Act, I had my life’s dreams shattered. On that day, my parents had been persuaded to take me to see a psychiatrist at the local mental hospital, St Cadoc’s in Caerleon. I hadn’t wanted to attend the meeting at all as I didn’t have any health issues. However, I was forced by my family to go. I spoke with a psychiatrist, a social worker and a GP and they told me that I couldn’t leave the hospital and that I had been placed under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983, a piece of UK government legislation that I had never heard of at all and that I knew nothing about. I was given a bit of paper which told me ‘my rights’ all of which are lies. I had to stay in the hospital for 28 days. I said I can’t do that as I am a university student at University College London (UCL) and also have several business commitments in the Music Industry for my DJing where I have a night at the Ministry of Sound arranged. They said that it was necessary for me to be treated (against my consent) and that afterwards I would be free to get on with my life.   (above is the MOS Flyers for the event which went ahead anyway, just without me there. It was apparently a delusion of grandeur and therefore a symptom of the diagnosed schizophrenia. The shrinks like using this terminology of grandiose delusions for beating you in court appeals etc. Difficult to prove to a shrink anything that you say as they always seem to know better…. [Interestingly my Ltd company was regarded as a Delusion of Grandeur much later in 2002 but I’ll save that story for a future End of Terror article.  ])   I won’t go into the details of what happened to me medically during this time as that is not the subject of this article but eventually I spent between 2 and 3 months locked in Isca Ward, St Cadoc’s, before I was released into the community. The misdiagnosed condition (schizophrenia) which I knew from the start that I didn’t have at all has led to a pursuance by this mental health system of me as an individual for over 22 years. I…

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Landlocked – Mental Health in the UK and the Prevention of International Travel, Translation and Foreign Language Education

air new zealand

On the Second of April 1997, at the point of my first contact with the Mental Health Act, I had my life’s dreams shattered. On that day, my parents had been persuaded to take me to see a psychiatrist at the local mental hospital, St Cadoc’s in Caerleon. I hadn’t wanted to attend the meeting at all as I didn’t have any health issues. However, I was forced by my family to go. I spoke with a psychiatrist, a social worker and a GP and they told me that I couldn’t leave the hospital and that I had been placed under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983, a piece of UK government legislation that I had never heard of at all and that I knew nothing about. I was given a bit of paper which told me ‘my rights’ all of which are lies. I had to stay in the hospital for 28 days. I said I can’t do that as I am a university student at University College London (UCL) and also have several business commitments in the Music Industry for my DJing where I have a night at the Ministry of Sound arranged. They said that it was necessary for me to be treated (against my consent) and that afterwards I would be free to get on with my life.   I won’t go into the details of what happened to me medically during this time as that is not the subject of this article but eventually I spent between 2 and 3 months locked in Isca Ward, St Cadoc’s, before I was released into the community. The misdiagnosed condition (schizophrenia) which I knew from the start that I didn’t have at all has led to a pursuance by this mental health system of me as an individual for over 22 years. I never got to complete my UCL studies and had my music career as a DJ (Wez G) seriously ruined. The End Of Terror website is a solution that I devised to fight my corner in what is in essence a war between myself and elements of the British State.   At the point of realising on 02.04.97, that I wasn’t going to be able to get away from this hospital I had a serious think of the impact it would have on my life. The immediate work and study could be dealt with…

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Low-Secure Punishment, Priory Group Private Sector Experiences, Ty Cwm Rhondda.

ty cwm rhondda

About 18 months ago I was sectioned yet again under Mental Health Act and sent up to Talygarn where yet again I was subjected to Dr Basu. I had been trying for 8 years in as diplomatic a way as possible to remove this vile man from my care. We had never seen eye to eye. I found him to be a racist Muslim who even had me banned from drinking alcohol in my local pub, The Castle Inn, Caldicot. His corruption knew no bounds and he constantly attacked me with treatment against consent giving me the maximum dose of Clopixol depot injection, in spite of medical proof demonstrating my allergy from several specialists including Gastroenterologists and Neurologists. Even the manufacturers of Clopixol, Lundbeck, after I raised used the yellow / red flag complaint system, had acknowledged that I should not under any circumstances be given this drug. I’d written on multiple occasions to Chief Executive of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Trust pleading for a change in medics. Basu carried on, revoking leave until I took this endofterror.org website down, Putting me in for long term care and proceeding with Clopixol depot injections. You meet the psychiatrist once a week in the mental hospital. Monday mornings was Basu’s ward round yet he was always at least 2-3 hours late. I was so frustrated and just had to find a way to get a change in consultant. He’d be openly racist to me as far as I was concerned as a White UK citizen so, wound up, I marched into the meeting and just said: “Look, you curry muncher, I’ve just had enough of you!” and walked back out. It’s not something I’m proud of and I’m not a racist but this was mild racism. My thinking was it would make him actually change the consultant. His partner, another Indian, filed a complaint along with Basu that I’d threatened to kill them and attacked them. He labelled me as a violent racist and I was immediately removed from Talygarn Acute Ward and transferred down to St. Cadoc’s in Caerleon to the PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) locked ward. Immediately I was put on fullscale meds as punishment. At the time on the ward a criminal patient from Caerphilly was causing loads of problems. He actually raped a young girl with Learning Difficulties. He got away with it and was actually…

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Review: Happy Mondays – Excess All Areas – by Simon Spence

Happy Mondays

This is the third Simon Spence book that I have read. He is a very talented music journalist from Manchester with a taste for documenting, wild, stylish cultural movements that have emerged from the Madchester craziness. Excess All Areas covers perhaps the most successful and innovative band to have ridden the early acid house craze that swept the nation in the mate 1980s. With the charismatic Shaun Ryder heading up the band, a true hedonist, a notorious substance abuser, it was always difficult for the true Happy Mondays to translate through the myriad web of journalists who tried to document them. Ryder, much to the annoyance of most of the musical backdrop of the band, Paul Ryder (Bass), Gary Whelan (Drums), Paul Davis (keyboard), Mark Day (Guitar), Mark ‘Bez’ Berry (dancer), got into a habit of blagging the press and feeding them over the top exaggerations of the band’s history and exploits. In hindsight, this was pure marketing genius and led to much of the mystery and notoriety that paved the way for success. However, it sifting all the bullshit, has made the writing of this book that much more difficult for Simon Spence. The early days of a relatively privileged middle class upbringing contrasts with the bunch of Manchester council estate ‘scallies’ they tried to portray themselves as. Sure there was petty crime and shopflifting etc. but nothing serious, although perhaps the addition of Bez to the group was actually verging on real true life crime as he obviously was up to the neck in it as a youngster and quite obviously expanded his mini empire quite a lot under the guise of being part of the band…. Manchester Giants, Factory Records and Tony Wilson picked up the band and signed them which paved their way to success following the ilk of luminaries Joy Division and New Order and allowing them direct access to one of the UK’s most influential music venues, the Haçienda. It all happened at just the right time for this band, as the cultural rebellion against failed Thatcherism took hold of the UK’s disillusioned youth masses and expressed itself in the ‘Acid House’ movement. Ecstasy-fuelled, fashion shifts, mass movement and gathering of people in raves, parties and festivals, vast increase in polydrug clubbing and mainstream ending of anti-drug taboos. A lot of this movement was driven by DJs and the Mondays’ uniqueness was that they…

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The Cultural Politics of the ‘War on Drugs’ in Latin America: Prohibition and Beyond? – By Dr Joey Whitfield, Cardiff University, 22.11.17

joey whitfield

Dr Joey Whitfield is a Research Fellow and member of the Spanish department at Cardiff University. He has a forthcoming book (available on Amazon) titled Prison Writing of Latin America https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prison-Writing-Latin-America-Whitfield/dp/150133462X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512133181&sr=8-1&keywords=prison+writing+of+latin+america The book details his study of prison writing from the 1910s to the present day. His interest in the War on Drugs springs from this extensive research where he has explored the creative output of prisoners. His work leads him to conclude that there is not so clear a distinction in Latin American jails between political prisoners and criminal prisoners.. Similarly in Latin America, politically, there is not a great deal of difference between democracies and dictatorships. One of the groups he has investigated is the Red Command – from Rio De Janeiro – who are a trafficking gang. There has been a decline if the role of the Urban Guerrilla in Latin America. There have been repressive regimes that are dictatorial. Eg. The government of Brazil during the 1980s The same repressive apparatus that has been used against urban guerrillas is now being used on drug cartels. As the Cold War ended across Latin America the political conflicts gave way to the ‘War on Drugs’. A new class of political prisoner has emerged. US President Ronald Reagan followed on from Nixon’s 1971 declaration of the ‘War on Drugs’. Aid payments to Latin American governments required a certification procedure that these governments were fighting this war appropriately. Often this led to high-profile arrests of cartel leaders in an attempt to justify the aid payments. Also, often there would be swoops upon the easiest people to arrest in the industry. The ‘War on Drugs’ has been completely lost. It is, in essence, impossible to win. It can be dealt with through legislation. The myth that drugs only involve hippies is incorrect. There are global groups that specialize in narco-policy. Leading figures such as Carlo Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa and Kofi Annan, Nick Clegg and former Latin American presidents, César Gaviria (Colombia) and Vicente Fox (underwent a terrible phase of presidency in Mexico during the War on Drugs), all of these figures are advocates of legalisation of drugs as being the key solution to the global crisis. However, all of the important political figures in this list are no longer in power. It is a matter of Realpolitik. It is impossible to countenance wide scale legalisation in order to end violence…

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