Augusto Ernesto Llosa Giraldo

Chiquitin

Fiery rays seemed to split the day asunder, while noisy raindrops pounded on this adoptive land which reached out to us, while causing those ill prepared to suffer its sometimes effects to flee.

The main entrance door was slightly ajar where the security guards grouped in a little surveillance hut, located to the side of the enormous prison building; it was under these circumstances that Chiquitin, an old mongrel dog soaked by the rain and terrified by the thunder, silently entered the Political Prisoners Section, without anyone noticing or restraining him.

Finding himself inside the prison precincts, he began sniffing around in search of food and was well received by the inmates: some called him by various names, while others tried to grab him in order to pet him but he behaved fearfully, never having received this kind of attention in the past; still others proffered food, such as dried fish, to him. He ate everything and managed to finally sate his canine voracity while remaining at a prudent distance. We were all cheered by the first such unusual visit in years: but night inevitably fell, when the screws began to lock all the barred gates in the different sections and Chiquitin, as we baptized him, remained trapped as one more prisoner in the concentric structure of this enormous and sinister place.

Hours passed and when most of the inmates were asleep, suddenly the dog began to bark and to race desperately up and down all the corridors in the section, letting out a succession of heart-rending howls. This continued until he finally stopped at the barred front gate, unleashing a lacerating cry that tore us all apart. There was nothing for us to do but call on the guards stationed outside to put the hound out on the street so that we could all get some sleep.

And so it was, the head security guard gave the starting order for the inmates to call the screws with one voice; after a few minuted of loud and repeated yelling, they all came rushing in, convinced there was some medical emergency. They were greatly surprised to learn that they had been summoned to liberate a dog and could find no way at all of explaining how it had succeeded in penetrating somewhere normally inaccessible to any human, given the panoply of safety measures on which the most secure prison in the country depended.

The prisoners were moved by the dogs behaviour; nobody spoke afterwards – and the silence was eloquent. That night many of the inmates dreamed of Liberty. I was among them.

Augusto Ernesto Llosa Giraldo

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