Teye & Belen Flamenco Gypsy Candlelight Christmas Eve Vigil for the Incarcerated Children [T. Don Hutto Jail, Taylor, Texas]
What initially seemed the most unlikely way to enjoy Christmas eve turned into one of the most beautiful and moving season celebrations I have ever
Yes, it was raining, and it was cold. Cold and wet to break out a quality flamenco guitar and play it. Cold to do a performance out in the open air. We
were forced to improvise a makeshift construction to huddle under: consisting of our suburban, our lightshow stand, a microphone stand, a tarp and some
bungee cords, and in the end, with all the candles, it almost resembled a nativity scene.
Initially there were only a few of us, but as the hour of the vigil went by, more and more people came, local people but also those who drove in from Dallas, McAllen, Houston, Del Rio. (For those not familiar with either the vastness of Texas or its speed limits, we are talking three, four, even seven hours of driving in bad weather!)
People of all ages held a candle, huddled under the improvised canopy or held umbrellas, and we enjoyed the closeness that comes from a common cause.
What was our cause? We were there to protest the incarceration in concrete prison cells, in prison uniforms, of CHILDREN, in a for-profit prison,
with our tax money ($ 95 per detainee per day, that amounts to more than two million dollars a month for this prison alone), right here in the USA, self-proclaimed most special of all countries on earth.
We were here to provide a ray of hope to those inside the prison (for although our initial offer to the prison
of a free Flamenco performance for the detainees and staff went unanswered and we were forced to do it on the street, rumor of such a gathering will surely
find its way into the cells!) and to let them know that there are many Americans who care and will put an end to this.
We were here so that these facts may be broadcast
around the world via the internet, and that eventually the mainstream media will have to pick up on it and that by national and international outrage these
practices will stop. News has traveled fast on the Flamenco internet community and has cast a wider net from there.
While organizing this Vigil, we’ve come upon NEW AND DISTURBING FACTS (thanks Jay Johnson, for the research):
–The prison took it out on the detainees: it has taken away recreational privileges as a direct result of last weeks’ march and vigil. You may ask, why go ahead with the Christmas Vigil? According to a lady who is in touch with those inside, the detainees much preferred their privileges on hold over the feeling of total isolation that they had experienced before.
–The phenomenon of putting children in concrete cells is spreading like an ugly cancer. People who reacted to the Flamenco Newsletters that we sent out all
over the world have informed us that the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Australia, are now all doing it. Some further research quickly revealed that the
prisons in those countries are all built and run by… THE SAME CORPORATIONS AS THOSE WHO RUN THEM IN THE USA. Globalization at its finest.
–These are For-Profit-Prisons indeed: the ONLY way for the detainees to contact anyone on the outside is by means of telephone. And while the actual cost of a phone call is known to us all, the detainees’ only way of calling out is by purchasing a $ 20 PHONE CARD, good for 20 MINUTES. First, this makes it impossible for those who do not have $ 20 to call outside, second, for someone who may not speak the local language, 20 minutes is nothing, third, the corporation makes additional profit by selling 20 minutes for 20
–Initially, the number of detainees in the prison in Taylor was given as 400, half of whom are children. It turns out however that at the time of writing, this prison is filled over capacity: more than 650 detainees
are inside, over half of whom are children.
Please let it sink in: 350 CHILDREN IN CONCRETE PRISON CELLS AT CHRISTMAS 2006, IN THE USA, 35 MILES FROM THE CAPITOL OF TEXAS. Merry Christmas.
–Supposedly the children and their mothers are in the concrete cells so that the families may be together (according to the official statement). How to explain then, that the fathers were shipped out to different prisons, in Colorado and elsewhere?
–The prison as it exists in Taylor today is in grave violation of … their own contract with Williamson County, where it states explicitly: “NO RAZOR
WIRE”. Of course, since razor wire is a cheap and secure way of preventing escape, and since this is a prison that must make profit, rolls and rolls of razor wire have been installed.
Please don’t take my word for it! Just take highway 79 North (it branches off from Interstate 35, about a dozen miles north of the State Capital of Texas, Austin) and drive into Taylor. Take a left somewhere before the railroad overpass, and you will soon gaze upon the marvel that, in Good Newspeak, is called the Don Hutto Residential Center.
Believe me, it does not look like a place where you nor your family would want to reside.
WHAT CAN YOU DO???
I am positive that you will be outraged after reading this. Regardless of what one’s feelings are on the difficult subject of immigration, NO ONE agrees to
putting children in concrete cells. So what can you do to help end this?
Nothing could be simpler. Just spread the word. This is understandingly kept low-profile. Two million dollars a month is good income, and the corporations are of course fully aware that imprisoning children will not sit well with most taxpayers, so the last thing the orporation wants is for this to be common knowledge.
And that is where YOU come in. If we ALL SPREAD THE WORD, THIS WILL STOP. Period.
Thank you very much, and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
–Teye, Austin, Dec 25, 2006