Girish Gupta

HOME

PHOTOS

ONLINE

Twitter
Instagram
IFTTT
Facebook
LinkedIn
Keybase
GitHub

BY COUNTRY

Brazil
Colombia
Cuba
Ecuador
Egypt
Guyana
Iraq
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
Ecologist
Economist Intelligence Unit
Emerging Markets
Financial Times
Foreign Policy
France 24
Fusion
GlobalPost
Guardian
Independent
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 (PGP Key)
Over 500 deaths last year inside Venezuelan prisons
Jan. 20, 2012 — 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...

Exclusive: At least 123 Venezuelan soldiers detained since protests - documents
Jul. 6, 2017


Venezuela hikes minimum wage 50 percent, effectively down 17 percent
Jul. 2, 2017


Venezuela movie actor behind helicopter attack on government buildings
Jun. 28, 2017


Fourteen Venezuelan army officers jailed in first week of protests - documents
Jun. 6, 2017


Exclusive: U.S. considers possible sanctions against Venezuela oil sector - officials
Jun. 4, 2017


Exclusive: Trump administration concerned about U.S. firms giving financial 'lifeline' to Venezuela
Jun. 4, 2017


United Airlines ends flights to Venezuela, further isolating country
Jun. 3, 2017


Venezuela sets new exchange mechanism, as currency continues to slide
May. 24, 2017


Exclusive: Venezuela holds 5,000 Russian surface-to-air MANPADS missiles
May. 22, 2017


Venezuelan opposition activists march to Leopoldo Lopez' jail
Apr. 28, 2017


Venezuela says inflation 274 percent last year, economists say far higher
Apr. 20, 2017


Venezuelan protests against government leave three dead
Apr. 19, 2017


Venezuelans return to streets, roused by ban on opposition leader
Apr. 8, 2017


Venezuelan opposition, security forces clash in anti-Maduro protests
Apr. 6, 2017


Venezuela security forces battle anti-Maduro protesters
Apr. 4, 2017








© Girish Gupta