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Modelo Presidium, Isla de la Juventud

Don’t miss the impacting visit to Modelo Presidium, the most shocking place throughout Isla de la Juventud.

Modelo Presidium, Isla de la Juventud
Modelo Presidium
© Gonzalo Morán

Modelo Presidium was a jail built in Cuba in the twenties until 1967, when it was closed and converted in a museum and a school. It is located specifically in Isla de la Juventud, near the village Juan Delio Chacón and 5 km east to Nueva Gerona.

Modelo Presidium, Cuba
Modelo Presidium, Cuba
© alain burosse

This is one of the most impressive places in the area, but it is also one of the saddest. For years, it was an authentic center of terror for all the Cuban citizens who expressed their independence ideas against the dictatorship. Its aim was to “clean” the Cuban society of delinquency.

The building imitates a well-known penal institution of Illinois, in USA. Four powerful circular blocks of five floors high constitute the prison. A tower in the middle of each block is prepared for the armed watchers in charge of the strong security of the place.

During the Second World War, the penal institution was used to jail Japanese and German enemies. However, the best known prisoners of the Modelo Presidium were Fidel Castro and the rest of his fight mates, who were imprisoned for two years after attacking the Moncada headquarters in 1953. They were separated from the rest of the convicts, in the hospital building.

The institution was closed in 1967 and the hospital building, where Fidel Castro was imprisoned, was converted in a museum. Today there is a hall dedicated to the history of the penal institution and other one dedicated to the lives of the Moncada prisoners. In addition to the museum, you can also visit the blocks of the prison, a more moving tour. Now the administration building has become in a school and a researching center of the Young Communist League.

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Village Chacón, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba.

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