Venezuela: mutiny in prison leads to massacre

Relatives of detainees at Los Llanos penitentiary protest after the murderous mutiny the day before, May 1, 2020. Freddy Rodriguez / Reuters

Text by: RFI Follow

In Venezuela, at least 47 people are said to have died and 75 others injured in a prison. This is the latest assessment of a mutiny that took place on Friday May 1 in the state of Portuguesa, in the center of the country. A killing that is linked to a massive escape attempt according to the authorities. But relatives of the victims speak of a hunger revolt that would have turned into a massacre.


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It is a elected member of the State of Portuguesa, Maria Beatriz Martinez, supported by the Venezuelan Observatory of prisons, who puts forward the macabre figure of 47 dead in the mutiny occurred in a prison in the west of the country. According to this MP and this NGO, the facts took place at the Los Llanos penitentiary in Guanare.

The official balance sheet has not changed since Friday, May 1: it reports 17 dead. But numerous videos taken inside the prison show dozens of lifeless bodies lying on the ground.

Attempt to escape or revolt against a retention of food?

The authorities justify the killing by a massive escape attempt. Dozens of detainees are said to have smashed the fence, leaving law enforcement officials with no choice but to do everything to prevent the escape.

Version refuted by the Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons and the relatives of the victims. According to them, a revolt broke out after the guards refused to provide food to the detainees.

Since the arrival of the new coronavirus in Venezuela , visits have been prohibited in prisons. It is therefore the guards who are responsible for transmitting to prisoners the food sent by their families, which is often their only means of subsistence. It would therefore be the retention of this food that would have caused the anger of the detainees and the violent confrontation that ensued.

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