Welcome to Gorgona, an unknown component of Colombia’s background frequently contrasted to Alcatraz or Robben Island.
Up Until 1984, this 26 square kilometre island located 55 kilometres off Colombia’s Pacific shore was an unfortunate location, where political detainees and also unsafe offenders were sent out to offer out their sentences – occasionally till fatality.
Much from spying eyes, prisoners were delegated experience through the island’s ruthless guards.
” Damned be this location,” created one previous prisoner in a rhyme.
Nowadays, just a few falling apart jail wall surfaces continue to be, and also the island is much better referred to as an eco-tourism center, drawing in scuba-divers and also naturists seeking to discover Colombia’s unbelievable biodiversity.
The only means to get to Gorgona is a two-hour watercraft flight from the seaside community of Guapi, concealed amongst mangroves.
Gorgona is a damp mix of volcanoes and also forest, where it rainfalls daily and also the waters include dolphins and also whales.
It was found in 1526 by Spanish vanquishers, that shed 87 males to poisonous serpent attacks within a couple of months of arrival.
It was therefore called after Medusa, a Hag in Greek folklore whose hair was constructed from serpents.
Temporarily it was a pirate sanctuary, yet eventually the Colombian state appropriated it to develop the jail.
” There are lots of tales around Gorgona,” states Corazon de Jesus Aguino, a park service technician and also regional celeb.
” The majority of them are unverifiable, yet what is specific is that it was an area of penalty and also awful suffering.”
Greater than a thousand detainees travelled through the jail: killers and also rapists, yet likewise political detainees from La Violencia, Colombia’s ten-year civil battle.
” Site visitors occasionally have extremely adverse sensations,” confesses De Jesus Aguino, that takes care of the jail’s deserted dorms.
A lot of have actually been overloaded by the trespassing forest, yet one continues to be, exposing a collection of wood bunk beds without bed mattress.
” Each detainee was assigned a number,” he states.
Visitors were uncommon, and also outside workout was just allowed for detainees aiding to lower the woodland.
One location personifies the torment of the jail greater than any kind of various other: the corrective quarter where seclusion cells are safeguarded with hefty iron bars.
Below, one of the most been afraid penalty was called ‘the can’ – an 80 centimetre large pit where detainees were compelled to mean days at a time in repulsive water approximately their necks.
” Torture, persecution, contaminated food … when I got here, Gorgona was a snake pit,” states the jail’s last supervisor, Miguel Dario Lopez.
Designated in 1981, Lopez happily asserts to have actually finished misuse by guards and also “calmed” the jail.
” The guards right here were burglars, corrupt, they took their retribution on detainees,” states Lopez, currently retired.
” 10 ‘canisters’ were still in operation. I quit all that. There was likewise abuse via appetite. Prisoners were just enabled potatoes and also a little bit of rice, with sometimes a little bit of hardly prepared serpent.
” They frequently sobbed, they all had psychological issues. They eliminated each various other with makeshift blades or suffocated each various other with basic dustcloths.”
In overall “nearly 150 detainees passed away in Gorgona,” he approximates, rejecting that the bodies were tossed right into the sea.
Regeneration from the damages
The jail was enclosed 1984 after stress from civils rights organisations, in addition to environmentalists and also researchers excited to shield the island’s all-natural heaven.
Over 70 percent of Gorgona’s forest had actually been reduced by the detainees.
However ever since, the forest has actually started to redeem its shed region.
” Colombians require to uncover this dark historic location,” states Omar Nanez, a traveler seeing the island.
Over 147 various kinds of bird and also 100 varieties of pest can be seen within Gorgona’s thick rain forest.
The bordering sea draws in dolphins, cetaceans and also yubarta whales, while the island’s reef is the biggest in the Colombian Pacific.
On bright days, site visitors can take on the island’s 3 major treking routes, rising to over 400 metres over water level.
Or if background is a lot more your point, you can invest your time discovering Gorgona’s pre-Hispanic past – a collection of historical sites going back to 1300 BC.
However while tourist on the island remains to expand, some are worried regarding the island’s dark background being shed forever.
” The federal government will certainly need to choose what it intends to protect of the jail,” states one national forest worker, that favored not to be called.
” Is this a social or historic property? Or should it be delegated go away permanently?”
View the video clip over to choose on your own.