Costa Rica

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San José, Costa Rica || Friday Edition, June 23, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 124
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Minister closes long, bitter history of prison's "Tombs" section
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The justice minister, Cecilia Sánchez, ceremoniously handed over six keys and three doors to the famous “Tumbas,” the Spanish word for tombs, in a final closing gesture on a dark history within La Reforma prison.

Ms. Sánchez closed the Tumbas back in August 2016 saying that they violated the human rights of the prisoners who were held there. The area of La Reforma prison has a notorious history.

It was first used as the maximum security section of the prison for some of the system’s worst offenders and hardened criminals. When a new facility was built in 2005 for maximum security, the section then became the solitary confinement section for inmates violating prison rules.

According to a statement from the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz, the minister did not like the idea of human beings being locked up for 23 hours a day in small, dark cells without proper ventilation. Some of the inmates kept in confinement were there for more than four years, she said.

The Mecanismo Nacional de Prevención de la Tortura had urged the closing of the Tombs for at least 15 years saying that they served as deposits of people during that time. Ms. Sánchez ordered their closure last August 2016, the justice ministry said.

“This act is very relevant and significant for us because the ámbito F, which was known as the old maxim, was a place of terror,” Ms. Sánchez said.
Tombs door
Ministerio de Justicia y Paz photo
Ms. Sánchez speaks as Tumbas door in foreground.

“It reproduced the conditions that were experienced in the Penitenciaría Central, when that was a center of violence and crime."

"Having closed that space filled us with deep satisfaction and the delivery of these keys and doors has the symbolism of having closed a very dark stage in the history of the Costa Rican penitentiary system," she added.

Both the keys and doors will undergo a restoration process to protect them and make them available to the public shortly, the ministry said.

Caja praises over 38 years of service by Dr. Juan Jaramillo Antillón
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dr. Juan Jaramillo Antillón was recognized by the board of directors for the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social Wednesday for a lifetime of service in medicine and in health.

The 82-year old former surgeon was recognized by Dr. Fernando Llorca Castro at his old offices in Hospital Calderón Guardia where he tried to improve the working conditions.

Dr. Jaramillo graduated in 1959 with the highest honors at the medical school of the Universidad Autónoma de México, the Caja said. For at least 38 years, Dr. Jaramillo worked as the head of the clinic, services and was a sectional head at Hospital México and Calderón.

Additionally, he served as the health minister for the country under the administration of President Monge between 1982 until 1986, the Caja said.

He was the recipient of the Premio Nacional Magón from the culture ministry for his extensive publications that included: 34 books, 37 essays, 79 magazine articles both national and abroad as well as over 220 news articles, the Caja said.

Dr. Jaramillo reflected in his remarks that, three years after moving to the Hospital México, when it was inaugurated, the directors asked him to return to Calderón to take over the surgery headquarters.

"I always considered that the most important thing in a person's life is to set an example and if it is possible to educate, teach,” he said.

                  Juan Jaramillo
Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social photo    
Dr. Jaramillo, left, reflects on his years of service.

“My life was in that sense to train young and good surgeons, not to be a great surgeon, my interest in going to Calderón Guardia was to be the boss, but above all to be able to form a young group of surgeons.”

For Dr. Jaramillo, the secret to his long career was advice given to him by his father.

“There is no free food. That to be entitled to a remuneration in a job must be done and not only to do it, but to do it well,” he said. 

“I do the simple things in an extraordinary way, but do not think I'm saying that to give self-praise like the bosses of hospital service. No, to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way is to give the example that anything insignificant is important in the institution and in the care of the sick. "

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