The Hidden Torture Cells
of Bolivia

They were about to let him go. After ten days of torture in a circuit of secret prisons, they were about to let him go. The first night they had taken him to the basement of the Interior Ministry and had beaten him with boards and rifle butts until he couldn’t see, until he could no longer remember what they wanted or why he was there. The second night they had locked him in a cell on the third floor with a tiny window that looked down on the roof of the United Nations building next door. They had jammed needles under his fingernails and shocked his teeth and testicles with a cattle prod. The third night they had taken him to the Department of Political Order and beat him some more, as they would each successive night. Editing was his crime: the ministry’s civilian agents had discovered his handwritten corrections in the margins of a subversive typescript. But ten days of what you might call enhanced interrogation techniques had satisfied the agents that Marcos Farfán was a naive student, a small fish, someone they could safely toss back. After all, they must have figured, how much could he really know? He was only sixteen.

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