Mexico’s government will convert a penal colony on the Islas Marias archipelago 120 kms (75 miles) off the coast of Nayarit, into an environmental and cultural center, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said last week.
The head of state said the new plans for the site of the Islas Marias Federal Prison – located on the Pacific archipelago’s largest island, Isla Maria Madre – would bring an end to the jail.
Founded in 1905, he recalled that the prison dates to the era of dictator Porfirio Diaz, who was president of Mexico for much of the period from 1876 to 1911, and reflects a history of “punishment, torture and repression lasting more than a century.”
The facility currently houses 600 low-risk prisoners. Of them, more than 200 will be released and the remainder will be relocated to facilities near their homes. Workers on the island also will be reassigned to other penitentiaries. The island jail was unique in that families often joined the prisoners, living on the remote island.
The decree will make the archipelago, which has been a natural protected area since 2000, a center for “the arts, culture and knowledge of the environment and nature.”
For her part, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Josefa Gonzalez said the center would be named after Revueltas’ first novel, “Los muros de agua” (Walls of Water), which is based on his experiences at the island prison.
Its most notable occupants have included Revueltas and Concepcion Acevedo de la Llata (known as La Madre Conchita), who was convicted of masterminding the assassination of President-elect Alvaro Obregon in 1928.