Girish Gupta

HOME

BY COUNTRY

Brazil
Colombia
Cuba
Ecuador
Egypt
Guyana
Jordan
Lebanon
Mexico
United Kingdom
Venezuela

BY MEDIUM

Text
Photo
Radio
TV/Video

BY PUBLISHER

Al Jazeera
BBC
BuzzFeed
CBC
Christian Science Monitor
CNN
Daily Mail
Datum
Economist Intelligence Unit
Emerging Markets
Financial Times
Foreign Policy
France 24
Fusion
GlobalPost
Guardian
La Prensa (Panama)
LatinFinance
Mancunion
Monocle
National (Abu Dhabi)
New Internationalist
New Statesman
New York Times
New Yorker
NPR
PBS
PRI
Radio France Internationale
Reuters
RTE
Sky News
Sun
Sunday Times
Telegraph
TIME
Times of London
USA Today
Vice
WLRN

ABOUT

About
CV
Contact
Over 500 deaths last year inside Venezuelan prisons
Jan. 20, 2012 18:53 GMT — Caracas, Venezuela

Published by GlobalPost

With inmates wielding machine guns, rifles and grenades and guards often unwilling to enter the overcrowded buildings for fear of their own death, jails in Venezuela have become a lawless territory that magnify the violence outside their walls. More than 500 people were killed in Venezuela’s notoriously dangerous prisons last year, according to a local charity.

Inside one prison in Caracas a few months ago, I witnessed prisoners brandishing huge guns, sharpening knives and tossing grenades around as they listened to blaring music and smoked marijuana.

“I've seen a man have his head cut off and people play football with it,” one prisoner told me, as the walls around us told their own story with hundreds of bullet holes and scorch marks.

Riots regularly take place. One at El Rodeo last June, just outside Caracas, led to a month-long standoff where thousands of soldiers were pitted against inmates while crowds of distraught women screamed outside in anger and dispair.

Read more: Prison uprising continues in Venezuela

Carlos Nieto, a local lawyer and human rights advocate, described the El Rodeo siege as “one of the most violent events to have occurred in a Venezuelan jail in the past 10 years.”

Nieto added: “We face a truly serious prison crisis in which the state has not shown up with solutions and this has led to chaos.”

The problem predates President Hugo Chávez, who himself was locked up after a failed coup attempt in February 1992 — six years before he came into power. He was disgusted with guards who failed to intervene as a man was raped and murdered in a nearby cell, according to Bart Jones' biography of the socialist leader, "Hugo."

Overcrowding is the key issue. The country’s prisons are meant to hold around 12,500 people but rather house nearly 50,000.

In August, a newly-appointed prisons minister, Iris Varela, said she would see to the release of around 20,000 of those prisoners. “In prison there are people that do not pose a danger to society,” she said. “They can be handled outside prison.”

However, outside prison is one of the world’s highest murder rates. According to InsightCrime, there were 18,850 murders last year, up 30% on the previous year. Other counts give higher figures and the capital city is often cited as more murderous than many warzones.

"I want to promise the Venezuelan people that we won't let the wolves loose," Varela said.

Filed from
Caracas, Venezuela






More...

Venezuela opposition launches protests, Maduro counters
Mar. 12, 2016 20:00 GMT


American Airlines to ax newly reinstated Caracas-New York route
Mar. 08, 2016 17:00 GMT


Venezuela military company to start services to PDVSA in weeks
Mar. 08, 2016 12:00 GMT


Tough road for Venezuela after dire data, inadequate measures
Feb. 19, 2016 17:00 GMT


Real or Barcelona? Venezuela president's economy speech seen as own goal
Feb. 18, 2016 17:00 GMT


Smuggling soars as Venezuela's economy sinks
Jan. 20, 2016 00:00 GMT


Cool language and fix economy, says Venezuela leader's former aide
Dec. 17, 2015 14:25 GMT


Vote shows Venezuela a 'great democracy,' says envoy to U.S.
Dec. 07, 2015 20:16 GMT


Venezuelan president's popularity bounces before election
Dec. 02, 2015 17:24 GMT


What arrests? Some Venezuelans in the dark about drugs scandal
Nov. 13, 2015 00:00 GMT


Venezuela opposition leader Lopez jailed for nearly 14 years
Sept. 11, 2015 02:00 GMT


Border closure turns once-bustling Venezuelan city into ghost town
Aug. 27, 2015 17:00 GMT


Distraught Colombians flee Venezuela as border dispute intensifies
Aug. 26, 2015 00:00 GMT


Shortages push some Venezuelans to queue overnight for food
Aug. 13, 2015 12:00 GMT


Headhunters woo low-cost Venezuela talent amid crisis
Aug. 05, 2015 00:00 GMT








© Girish Gupta