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HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/HONDURAS-PRISON
RTX7IWX9
May 14, 2020
La Esperanza is a low-security prison tucked into the pine and oak-lined mountains of central Honduras....
La Esperanza, Honduras
The Wider Image: Cut off by coronavirus: Hondurans in packed prison suffer mental toll
La Esperanza is a low-security prison tucked into the pine and oak-lined mountains of central Honduras. Its name, in Spanish, means hope. Behind the bars, the ultimate law is that which reigns in Central America, a mantra sprayed onto walls in gang-controlled neighborhoods: ver, oir, y callar. See, hear, and shut up. A whiteboard at the entrance keeps a daily tally. The top line never changes: "Prison Capacity: 70 inmates." But the rows below of the actual number of prisoners tick up and down. Today's count: 454. The roots of the problems at La Esperanza plague prisons throughout Latin America, said director Jose Lopez Cerrato: harsh sentences for small crimes, lack of proper police investigation, and many detainees held without charge, often for years. The only reprieve is visiting days, when children, grandparents and wives breathe life into the courtyard, taking over the kitchen, playing ball, and praying with the inmates at religious services. But as the coronavirus took hold in Honduras, authorities banned visits. And with prohibitively expensive rates for calls from the prison's three working phones, inmates are now all but cut off from the outside world. In addition to the health risks posed by overcrowding, staff worry about the pandemic's mental toll. Honduras has had over 2,000 reported coronavirus cases and 120 deaths, although most public health experts say those numbers are a likely underestimate. REUTERS/Adrees Latif SEARCH "HONDURAS PRISON" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. Matching text: HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/HONDURAS-PRISON
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