October 1, 2023

Conservaeloso: The Campaign to Save the “Alcatraz of the Caribbean”

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Oso-Blanco-Puerto-Rico-1 Oso-Blanco-Puerto-Rico-2From Global Voices

The Governor’s recent announcement stating that Puerto Rico’s infamous State Penitentiary called Oso Blanco (White Bear) would be finally demolished, years after the initial decision, has spurred massive campaigns calling for it’s preservation as an architectural and historic site. The space will be used to open a center for cancer treatment.

Architect Miguel Rodríguez Casellas explains [es] that besides its architectural value, Oso Blanco, founded in 1933, holds a profound historical value:

“Maybe you do not have or had convicted relatives, but for a large part of our citizenry who have or have had, this site is a monument to suffering, to the successes, but most of all, the failures of state’s brutal crime and punishment philosophy. To erase all this, with a mechanical action or the implosion of dynamite for sympathetic causes -”cancer cure” – is perhaps even a greater loss than the stylized grace of the building, which already, those of us who understand its value, defend.”

Photojournalist José Jiménez has started the online campaign #conservaeloso (save the bear), and has spread his photographs of the prison throughout the capital city of San Juan with messages such as: “The murder of a historical building” and “Fear is also history.” There is also a Facebook page. The architect Cristina Cardalda opened an online petition to demand that the governor, Alejandro García Padilla, paralyze the destruction of the jail.


The partial demolition of Oso Blanco has already begun

“The murder of a historic building.” Photos by José Jiménez

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