Lecumberri Palace: the cases of those who were unjustly imprisoned – El Sol de México

One of the most emblematic historical buildings of the 20th century in Mexico City was the prison called Palacio de Lecumberri, which, due to its gloomy stories, was given the nickname “Negro.” Witness to one of the country’s great assassinations, it became a hellish place for prisoners from its beginning.

The origin of the Black Palace of Lecumberri dates back to September 29, 1900, when Porfirio positivism aspired to align itself with the institutions of the West and the so-called “first world.” For this reason, said prison established a panopticon prison model, which consisted of a guard tower covered with lattices, so that the guard would not be seen from the outside but he could see the prisoners, giving a sensation of perpetual surveillance.

The website of the Government of Mexico explains that said construction was based on the Penal Code of 1871, said project was carried out by the architect Lorenzo de la Hidalga, who was based on the panopticon of the English philosopher Jeremías Bentham.

The building was designed with a rotunda or polygonal central body intended for the security of the penitentiary and a radial made up of star-shaped galleries that converge in the central space, in which a tower was erected for the surveillance of the entire prison. Explains the website of the Government of Mexico

This prison witnessed the double assassination of Francisco I. Madero and José María Pino Suárez in 1913, who were murdered by order of Victoriano Huerta “El Chacal”, this event marked a before and after in the Mexican Revolution, the Tragic Ten was a betrayal that was marked as one of the most vile in the history of Mexico.

Who was imprisoned in the Black Palace of Lacumberri?

Among the most prominent historical figures who passed through the sordid prison of Lecumberri was Pancho Villa, who, after an argument with Victoriano Huerta, was accused of insubordination and theft of a mare. It is worth mentioning that before his imprisonment, he was put on the wall of execution by firing squad, however, the intervention of the brothers Raúl and Emilio Madero prevented his execution.

Another prominent figure was David Alfaro Siqueiros, who was imprisoned in Lecumberri along with Filomeno Mata Jr. in 1959, accused of “social dissolution” for supporting the labor and union movement. It is worth mentioning that at that time unions were fighting to improve working conditions.

In addition, there were also the murderer of León Trotsky, Pancho Ramón Mercader, José Revueltas, Juan Gabriel, Demetrio Vallejo and the serial killer Francisco Guerrero “El Chalequero”

The Black Palace of Lecumberri during the student movement of ’68

During the student movement of 1968, the social demands of students, workers, professionals and doctors united as one, the response of the Government of Mexico was a brutal repression of the plaintiffs. Such was the case of Salvador Zarco, who was a member of the railroad union movement in that fateful year.

Zarco details that he could not attend the march on October 2, however, he ended up imprisoned in the Black Palace of Lecumberri for looking for colleagues and friends who did attend. “I arrived at the first house and didn’t find anyone, at the second neither, at the third I found the police and they arrested me”

The railroad worker says that after his arrest he was hit on the ears, they stripped him naked and even touched his testicles. He also said that they coerced him into telling things that he did not know.

After several tortures, they put me in a cell, cell H, where on the wall, I remember, there was a legend: ‘In this ungrateful prison, where sadness reigns, crime is not punished, poverty is punished.’

Zarco explained to Gaceta UNAM

Salvador was imprisoned in Lecumberri until 1971, he says that it was a quite complex experience, he even remembers it with tears.

Not everyone has mentioned many people who participated in the hunger strike, such as the peasant leaders, and the assault we suffered. People always talk about prisoners ideally, but no one talks about the harsh reality Zarco explained to Gaceta UNAM

The Black Palace of Lecumberri closed its doors as a prison in 1976, in 1977 it was decided that it would be the General Archive of the Nation (AGN), it was not until 1982 that it opened its doors as such.

2024-05-18 19:57:53
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