Nineteen inmates died in a clash in a Venezuelan prison on Sunday, while four inmates were killed in riots in another prison within days.
The fighting in the Rodeo I prison, in the Caribbean state of Miranda, had the highest death toll of any incident in Venezuela’s penitentiary system since 1999, according to reports.
The violence broke out after visiting hours, but its cause is not known. Non-governmental organizations told the press that the jail was seriously overcrowded, with at least 3,600 prisoners in accomodation intended for 750.
Four more prisoners died in a prison in Sabaneta, west Venezuela. One died in a fight on Monday night, and another three in a riot that broke out the following day.
Following the incidents, Interior Minister Tarek El Assaimi announced the creation of a new government ministry to oversee the country’s prisons and ensure “integrated care” for inmates.
InSight has reported on the deep problems facing Venezuela’s prison system, with massive overcrowding, violence, incidents of hostage-taking, and escapes.