A unique series of colored drawings painted by an inmate at El Frontón
in 1932 o√ers a rare opportunity to apprehend the experience of the
prison as perceived by a member of the inmate community. The artist
was Julio Alberto Godínez, who was sent to El Frontón under the appar-
ently false accusation of participating in the Aprista insurrection of 1932
in Trujillo.∞ With a gaze full of irony and sarcasm, Godínez presents a
series of caricatures depicting various scenes of daily life on the penal
island. Unlike the portrayals of prison life in novels, poems, testimonies,
and paintings, which tend to emphasize su√ering, cruelty, and pain,
Godínez’s representations unambiguously invite the viewer to laugh,
even when some of the scenes are not pleasant. One of them, for example
(fig. 8), depicts a group of inmates enjoying a jarana, a festive celebration
that would be unthinkable in a militarized, oppressive penal institution,
but that may have occurred at El Frontón, as at other prisons in Lima,
with relative frequency. The prison resembles, indeed, a callejón from any
of the populous neighborhoods of Lima. Another group of images repre-
sent individual characters: a couple of faites, an ‘‘ino√ensive idler,’’ and
Valdez, an inmate of allegedly decent background and a ‘‘victim of that
high society’’ to which he belonged, who is depicted as mentally in-
sane, sick, and abandoned. There is also a set of caricatures that o√ers a
distinctly sarcastic angle on political prisoners. ‘‘Occasional Fraternity’’
(fig. 9) depicts the irony of an Aprista inmate and a Communist inmate
embracing a soldier (apparently also a prisoner), while a common crimi-
nal stands alone, watching them from a distance. Godínez’s caption is
quite telling: ‘‘The soldier, ironically in this environment, fraternally em-
braces the citizens of the fatherland; but the sickle and hammer and the
Aprista star do not embrace the Fatherland.’’ He seems to imply that
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