Friday, November 8, 2019


On the Metrobus going to and from the airport yesterday, I passed this building.

Today it is the General Archive of the Nation, but it has a dark past.   It was once the most infamous penitentiary in Mexico City, the dreaded Lecumberri Palace.  It was completed in 1900 during the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz.  Opponents to his rule were imprisoned here.  During the student protests of 1968 and on into the 1970s, leftist political prisoners were held here.  Conditions in the prison were described as horrendous with frequent beatings and torture of the inmates.  Famous prisoners included the painter David Siqueiros who was incarcerated for protesting the arrests of striking workers and teachers, and the singer Juan Gabriel who as a teenager was accused of robbery.  One of the few people to ever escape the prison was Pancho Villa who was held here during the Mexican Revolution.

The prison was decomissioned in 1976, and in 1980 became the headquarters of the National Archives. 

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