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Barbato describes prison life through art, stories

Ever wonder what it’s like to be imprisoned in a foreign country on bizarre charges?

Artist/poet John Barbato doesn’t have to imagine such a possibility; he lived in the Oaxaca State Prison for 33 days, beginning last Oct. 6.

Barbato faced up to 14 years in prison because he was caught in a southern Mexico property dispute which involved a member of President Vicente Fox’s cabinet.



The former Nevada City resident had been renting a small house on the contested property in Oaxaca from college professor Russell Ames, who sold his land to the University of the Americas in Mexico City in 1988 in exchange for lifetime rights to remain on the property.

When Barbato and two other friends were arrested on charges of trying to take over the land themselves, Ames said that was just a “ridiculous” attempt to intimidate Ames into leaving the property.




When Barbato was freed last November, he stated in a phone interview that he did well physically but described the mental part of the imprisonment as “psychological torture.”

Barbato will discuss his Oaxaca experiences Friday during a one-night exhibit featuring paintings and stories.

He will read excerpts from a work-in-progress about his incarceration.

The free Foothill Flowers exhibit is from 7 to 10 p.m. Foothill Flowers is at 102 W. Main St.

Call 273-2296 for more information.


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