top of page
  • Writer's picturePanama Human Rights

Catholics in La Joya

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

Below is how different religious activities can cause jealousy and even hostility to others faith groups, the video shows my anger when confronted with a faith group that took to singing and chanting without consideration to my right to privacy, being in a position with having no cell to call my own, then being forced to live in the communal gymnasium area with 150 other inmates was subjected to physiological and mental abuse for my 18 months of my incarceration.

The predecessor of this site also established his own religious website that was run from his prison cell in Colon Panama, this was yet another spinoff on religion.

Click image to see in full:

No Structure for Religion, anyone could be a cult leader:

We at Panama Human Rights believe we are all human and when the pressures of life truly do get you down, we all need that little bit of space to reflect and seek guidance from a higher authority, but in reality this was impossible for the 477 inmates of building 6, being it was vastly overcrowded and had no free space to call your own in your times of need

Left: are inmates playing Christian music that would be relentless throughout the day and into the late evening. This non-denominational faith group used two large boom box speakers with no consideration for others. These individuals were the weakest of the mindset; sadly these individuals lived in a cloud and could not see the true real reality of where God had placed them, and to accept the hand they were dealt with. 

Many inmates suffered traumatic experiences whilst incarcerated, ranging from a 20-year-old inmate suffering the death of his six-month-old daughter, to loved ones losing their mum, dad, and wife. The penitentiary system makes no provisions for these traumatic life-changing experiences and has no pity towards the inmate’s physiological state of mind, which could and did lead to inmates taking their own lives.

The true meaning of Church was interpreted by many different faith groups, many of which were made upon an ad hoc basis that sadly led the venerable believing in cult multi-faith pop up churches and in doing so led inmates to believing that if they did repent and expelled the devil from their body they would be released from prison, many became obsessed and believed this myth to the extent that inmates were conversing in tongs thinking they were freeing the devil who had placed them into building 6.

New inmates transformed themselves overnight upon arrival; many had physiological, pathological, imbalanced disorders that were sadly brought about through these cult churches, and harsh living conditions which scared these individuals for the rest of their life.

Inmate Sandy was a typical example of a pop-up cult faith group, he/she believed in the dark side of religion, because of her strong beliefs, she ended up in La Joya for a 20 years stretch, but not before filling her calling to god by eating a Panamanian.   

La Joya was for only the strongest; the weak took the high road and the easy path by joining church groups by giving them strength in numbers. Seeing grown men who when on the outside were hardened criminals were transformed into frightened children once incarcerated, begged belief, the inmate's characters changed completely as they did not have gang members around them for support in this new unchartered territory.

These cult groups were not good friends with the general prison population especially the drug addicts, many times inmates with marijuana addictions looked upon these churchgoers as easy prey to steal there bible papers to roll a blunt.

​When bible papers were scarce, especially in the middle of the night the ones who could afford it would smoke an apple. The serious crack offenders would use discarded soda cans for their cocaine fix.

Catholic Church La Joya – Building 6

A Human Right is to practice your faith

The only one designated religious area was only for the Catholic’s, pictured above, this altar was located outside building 6. Many inmates did not have free access to this area being many inmates were locked inside for up to 14 days at a time, when they did have the opportunity to exercise their right to pray it was extremely limited. Sadly this area slowly turned into a dumping ground for plastic tubing and a urinating area for police and inmates. It finally it fell into disrepair leaving the Catholic’s without an area to practice their faith.

This act by Panama by not allowing prisoners the freedom of religion violated their basic human rights by not being able to practice their faith freely. Everybody is entitled and has the right to practice whatever their faith or beliefs without conditions. For many inmates this was a crucial part of their everyday wellbeing and psychological healing, sadly Panama’s faith stops at the gates of La Joya.

International Law: Right to Religion

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page