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Miguel Alvarez is a fictional character played by American actor Kirk Acevedo on the television show Oz. He is the main Latino inmate in the series. He is a gang member of El Norte and of Cuban descent.
Prisoner #97A413. Convicted February 3, 1997 - Assault with a deadly weapon, criminal mischief in the second degree. Sentence: 15 years, up for parole in two.
Alvarez's father and grandfather are both serving life sentences in Oz, and Alvarez has been incarcerated for assaulting an old man who accidentally scratched his car. His girlfriend is convicted of the same crime and serving in the Parker Women's facility. Growing up in a hard and poor Latino neighborhood, Alvarez does whatever is necessary to survive. However, he is very much his own worst enemy, and he reacts before he thinks. He is often isolated and has had conflicts with several others, especially Carmen Guerra and Warden Leo Glynn. However, he still appears salvageable to both unit manager Tim McManus and Father Ray Mukada. He is one of only five regular Oz inmates from season 1 to survive the entire run of the show. The other four are Bob Rebadow, Ryan O'Reily, Tobias Beecher and Arnold "Poet" Jackson.
Although Alvarez is often consumed by worst parts of his nature, he has shown many signs of a gentler side. He is devastated about the loss of his only son and is grateful to Father Mukada for helping him through it, even though he later fails to protect Mukada during the riots. He also displays genuine remorse after he blinds a guard and is so consumed by guilt that he attempts suicide.
Alvarez arrives and is stabbed in the receiving and discharge area. He is serving 15 years and is up for parole in 2 for aggravated assault. His girlfriend Maritza is pregnant with their child and is serving in a Woman's facility in the state. He has no intention of being there for the birth of his child since he has never met his father Eduardo or grandfather Ricardo who both are serving life sentences in Oz. Eduardo cannot talk because he has no tongue since a Haitian inmate cut it out when he first arrived in Oz. Ricardo cut the Haitian's heart out and serves life in solitary confinement. At the urging of Father Mukada, the prison priest, Ricardo and Eduardo manage to convince Miguel to be there for his child's birth and it changes his perspective on life. The baby however has a bad liver since Maritza and Miguel both did several drugs during her pregnancy and it ends up dying. Distraught, Miguel becomes a key player amongst the Latino inmates and takes over the gang when their leader is paroled. Ricardo, in the meantime, is suffering from Alzheimer's and Miguel is not sure of what to do about it. During the prison riot, Alvarez is a major leader and takes control of the hostages who are all correctional officers on staff and is particularly brutal with more than one of them. When the S.O.R.T. team takes control, Carlos Rodrigo's (Miguel's friend) head is blown off next to Alvarez. Unlike the other riot leaders, Alvarez ends up in the infirmary after being shot by one of the S.O.R.T. members' rifle.
Alvarez is one of the inmates let back into the newly built Em City. In this season, the Latinos are looking to move up in rank and are not sure whether or not to work with or against the Italian or Homeboy gangs in the drug trade. Schillinger, desperate to kill Beecher, tells Miguel about how he will push things through the mail room for payment but when Alvarez gets demanding, Schillinger dismisses him with an ethnic slur. Peter Schibetta, the son of slain Italian leader Nino Schibetta offers Alvarez a deal in the drug trade to kill Simon Adebisi. Adebisi does the same thing and Alvarez and the Latinos sit on the side to see what is going down. Later, Warden Glynn is upset about the rape of his daughter. Alvarez knows the men responsible and tortures Glynn with this knowledge since he feels Glynn was too brutal towards him. Meanwhile, Peter Schibetta is raped by Simon Adebisi and Alvarez wishes to work with the Homeboys but Adebisi says no since he failed to help him take down the Italians. The Latinos, especially Carmen Guerra, are growing tired with Alvarez's passive leadership and are then brought higher up in standing when legendary thug Raoul "El Cid" Hernandez arrives. Hernandez dislikes Alvarez immediately and casts him out for being "too white." Alvarez is light in complexion, but what Hernandez really means is that Alvarez lacks the "cojones" ("balls") to be a member of El Norte. Alvarez tells Hernandez that he has no problem with him running the gang being who he is and tells him he will do whatever is necessary to get into the good graces of El Cid. El Cid orders him to blind a new CO, Latino officer Eugene Rivera. Apparently Rivera is a former rival gang member of El Cid's and will make El Norte have an unpleasant time as long as he works in Oz. If Alvarez does not do this then he will be out of El Norte and killed. Alvarez does this and is thrown into solitary as a result.
In solitary, Alvarez is being reduced to drinking his own urine to survive. This is because the COs "forget" to feed him regularly since he blinded Eugene Rivera. Father Mukada, Sister Pete, and Dr. Nathan think it is for the better to get Alvarez out of solitary since he has been cutting and trying to hang himself inside. Glynn reluctantly agrees to let him out. In Em City for the time being he is allowed into El Norte. In the boxing ring, he agrees to represent the Latinos when inmate Carlo Ricardo is sent to the hole. He boxes against gay inmate Jason Cramer who beats him after Ryan O'Reily spikes Alvarez's water. Losing to a gay inmate causes Miguel to be the subject of various ridicule and El Cid starts to question his worth once again. Later, Alvarez assists the Latinos in helping Simon Adebisi take down the other Homeboys so that they can play a larger role in the drug trade. The drug leaders are now Hernandez, Pancamo, and Adebisi who are working as three-way partners. Being in Em City, Alvarez has agreed to interact with Eugene Rivera over the blinding, and Rivera is anything but forgiving throughout it. Hernandez at the pecking of Guerra starts to question Miguel's commitment to El Norte. When the Latinos steal drugs from Ryan O'Reily, O'Reily tips off the COs to bust El Norte, and Alvarez leaves the scene two seconds early and is not sent to solitary as a result. El Cid, angered by this thinks Alvarez snitched on them and orders Guerra and Ricardo to kill Alvarez. Alvarez instead kills Ricardo in self-defense and is thrown into solitary, but not before lying to Warden Glynn about the rape of his daughter.
Inside of solitary, Alvarez is harassed by inmate Louis Bevilaqua over the death of Carlo Ricardo, who is Ricardo's cousin. Alvarez now reveals that he knows it was Bevilaqua who raped Glynn's daughter. Hernandez and Guerra see to it that Bevilaqua gets a shank to kill Alvarez but instead, mentally unstable inmate William Giles prevents Alvarez from dying and kills Bevilaqua. Alvarez is sent to the hospital and another unsuccessful attempt is made on him, this time by Carlos Martinez. In the hospital, Busmalis is digging a tunnel which Alvarez escapes through in the middle of the night. El Cid furiously demands that Alvarez be killed immediately by outside connections to El Norte. Alvarez is on the run for the remainder of the first half of this season (The reason why he went on the run was because Acevedo (who plays Alvarez) needed to take some time off from the show to film the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.) and in the meantime Enrique Morales arrives in Oz. Morales is offered Hernandez's third of the drug money if he gets El Cid murdered. Morales considers El Cid to be too "loco" and "Old School" to be qualified to run El Norte and gets him murdered at the hands of Bob Rebadow.
During the second half of the season Alvarez is captured near the Mexican border and when he is brought back to Oz, he is sent into solitary. Alvarez agrees with Warden Glynn to be a snitch in Em City if let back there and tries to get back into El Norte. Morales does not dislike Alvarez but Guerra still wants him dead. Guerra enlists Jorge Vasquez to murder Alvarez but instead he ends up dead. Because of this beef, Morales cannot let Alvarez back into El Norte and Alvarez is sent to solitary for the remainder of the season. (The reason why Alvarez is placed in solitary is because Acevedo had to film a two-episode arc on the NBC series Third Watch.) While in solitary, Alvarez smears his own feces around his cell.
The prisoners in isolation are let into Em City during a renovation and are told by Warden Glynn that if they behave, they don't have to go back. Alvarez thinks Glynn will have him sent back regardless so he is not in a mood to be well behaved. He offers a truce with Guerra offering him the opportunity to stab him without retaliation in the shoulder. Guerra stabs him near the heart instead but Alvarez lives. Morales tells him that he cannot get back into El Norte, but a truce and no violence pact will be enforced. A young Latino inmate, Jaime Velez, is impressed with Alvarez taking the stabbing like a man unafraid and tells Alvarez that he wants to work as his lieutenant. Alvarez attempts to use this as an opportunity to kill Guerra, but Guerra kills Velez instead.
Looking for salvation in his guilt over Velez's death, he signs up for a guide dog program being offered to the inmates. The woman running the program Alicia Hinden, is wary over Alvarez's history of violence but she allows him to participate when he tells her he wishes to do this to help Eugene Rivera, the CO he blinded. Miguel does a great job with the dog and wants Rivera to have it, but Eugene and his wife Tina are extremely hesitant in getting the dog. Rivera accepts though—he wants his wife to be free from taking care of him all the time. Alvarez gives him a special surprise. Under the impression that the Riveras spoke Spanish at home, Alvarez trains the dog in both English and Spanish commands. The dog went to Rivera after it was called in Spanish and for once, Alvarez felt he did something extraordinarily miraculous. McManus and Alicia Hinden were extremely impressed and both wrote letters of recommendation supporting Alvarez's parole.
Warden Glynn does not believe Alvarez should leave Oz and influences the parole board to sway against Alvarez however. McManus warns Miguel about this, but he ends up holding his head high throughout going to the hearing. The parole board is particularly accusatory and belligerent with Alvarez and continuously questions him in a negative sense. One parole member in particular, Luis Ruiz, the only Latino member on the board is very hostile and asks Alvarez "What the fuck makes you think we should set you free, you little prick?". This causes Alvarez to assault Ruiz, and he is sent to solitary as a result.
At the solitary review, Alvarez is released against Warden Glynn's objections particularly at the hands of Tim McManus. McManus warns Guerra not to do anything towards Alvarez since he believes that everything bad Alvarez has done in Emerald City is somehow tied to Guerra. To both Alvarez and McManus' surprise, Guerra wants to be friends with Miguel. Morales offers Alvarez a chance back into El Norte if he does some spying on the Homeboys. Alvarez is trying to remain sane and clean so that he can possibly be paroled. Morales is later killed in the hospital after he is injured by CO Dave Brass and Guerra asks him to lead El Norte. Alvarez declines as he still wants to be paroled.
Alvarez receives word from his best friend that Maritza is cheating on him. Oddly enough, it's Miguel's compadre who she is sleeping with. Alvarez also receives word that he is the sole beneficiary of Aryan inmate Wolfgang Cutler. Vernon Schillinger demands that Alvarez give all the inheritance to Cutler's wife and he agrees to but both he and Cathy Jo Cutler, Wolfgang's widow, develop some feelings for each other during the document signing. Schillinger is angered by this as it goes against his beliefs. He has the Aryans attack Alvarez and gets Cathy Jo gone for good.
In the meantime, a gay nightclub owner named Alonzo Torquemada is sent to Oz and is selling designer drugs called D-Tabs and wants Alvarez to be his partner in it. Torquemada is sexually obsessed with Alvarez who initially wants nothing to do with this drug business. Meanwhile, it is rumored that Ruiz will be the new head of the parole board, and McManus urges him to meet with Alvarez so that he can talk it over how the prisoner can be paroled. Ruiz agrees to meet with Alvarez one on one to everyone's surprise.
In the meeting, Ruiz tells Alvarez that he was purposefully hostile at the last hearing because he wanted to see how well Alvarez handled himself in the meeting. He also tells Alvarez that he grew up in Alvarez's same neighborhood and he is tired of seeing Latinos like Alvarez give the rest of them a bad name. He says that Alvarez will never leave Oz as long as he is the head of the board but they will go through the same procedure each year to mentally breakdown Alvarez. Frustrated and with no hope left, he gives in to Torquemada's drugs and sexual advances. When Chris Keller committs suicide, but makes it look like Beecher had done it, Ryan O'Reily, Poet, and Alvarez are seen examaining his body.
- Carlo Ricardo - Stabbed in self-defence as Raoul "El Cid" Hernandez ordered Ricardo and Guerra to kill Alvarez.
- Jorge Vasquez - Slashed in the neck as Vasquez was going to attack for talking to Burr Redding into helping him kill Enrique Morales