HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Prisons are 'Powder Kegs': NGO
BRIEF

Venezuela Prisons are 'Powder Kegs': NGO

PRISONS / 20 SEP 2013 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

A prominent NGO in Venezuela has strongly criticized the prison ministry's failure to address chaos in the penitentiary system after yet another violent confrontation left scores of prisoners dead.

According to Humberto Prado, coordinator general of the Venezuela Prison Observatory (OVP), the country's jails are "powder kegs," which authorities "only remember when one explodes," reported Globovision.

Prado criticized Prison Minister Iris Varela for failing to act effectively since the creation of her ministry and her appointment two years ago, and highlighted dire overcrowding in jails.

The declarations come days after a brutal battle in Maracaibo National Prison left 16 inmates dead, and less than a month after six prisoners were killed during violence in the same facility. In January, 61 inmates were killed in a riot at a prison in Barquisimeto, which was subsequently abandoned.

Speaking on September 19, Varela announced the evacuation of the Maracaibo prison, as she blamed the current situation on government policies predating the 1999 to 2013 presidency of Hugo Chavez, who died in March.

According to figures from the OVB, last year 591 prisoners died in Venezuela's prisons, which are running at more than 290 percent capacity.

InSight Crime Analysis

Venezuela's nightmarish prison system is one of most dangerous in the world, and Varela has done little to address the situation since her appointment by Hugo Chavez, who, in turn, did little to tackle prison conditions and violence in 14 years of power.

This institutional neglect has left the prisons in the hands of criminals, led by gang leaders known as "pranes." Highlighting the authorities’ total lack of control, "El Mocho Edwin," the newly declared "great pran" who apparently orchestrated the recent violence to extend his control in Maracaibo prison was able to give a telephone interview to Venezuelan press the day after the incident.

He has since declared that "Iris [Varela] would have to bring me out dead" if she wanted to remove him from the facility, promising yet more violence lies ahead if the minister is to follow through with her evacuation plan.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HUMAN RIGHTS / 16 MAR 2017

Security forces in Venezuela killed over 250 minors in 2016, a steep rise compared to the previous year and yet…

BRAZIL / 25 DEC 2017

The expression “evangelical drug trafficker” may sound incongruous, but in Rio de Janeiro, it’s an increasingly familiar phenomenon.

BOLIVIA / 10 JUN 2015

Inmates standing trial for a 2013 prison riot in Bolivia that left dozens dead have said that they discussed the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…