Venezuela prison riot leaves more than 40 dead

Venezuela prison riot leaves more than 40 dead
The injured were brought to this hospital in Guanare. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: More than 40 people have been killed after rioting broke out at a prison in Venezuela.

According to the Venezuelan Prison Observatory, inmates at Los Llanos jail, near western Guanare city, were angry at a lack of food and water.

The organisation called for an investigation, while casting doubt on the official version of the incident that the prisoners had attempted a jail-break.

Prison staff including the governor were wounded in the incident.

Iris Varela, the Prison Minister told a local newspaper that there had been an incident at the jail but did not give a death toll. The incident was described as an escape attempt in that Venezuelan newspaper report.

Riots in the overcrowded and unsanitary prisons of Latin America have been increasing as governments introduce containment measures to help slow the coronavirus outbreak.

Quarantine measures may mean that inmates cannot receive food brought by relatives, on which they may depend.

The observatory, a prison watchdog, said at least 46 inmates had died and the emergency department of the local hospital was overwhelmed with the number of wounded.

Maria Beatriz Martinez, an opposition National Assembly member, tweeting from outside the prison (in Spanish), described the incident as a “massacre” and said relatives understood their loved ones would be buried in mass graves.

The relatives were demanding the bodies be returned to them.

Venezuela is engulfed in a political crisis with two rival politicians claiming to be the country’s legitimate leader, amid the severe coronavirus pandemic.

Under President Nicolás Maduro the economy has collapsed and shortages of basic commodities have become widespread. Millions of people have fled to neighboring countries.

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