Mérida, 27th November 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – 13 prisoners have died and another 145 left poisoned following the presumed uncontrolled consumption of medical substances during a prison riot in Venezuela.
The act occurred earlier this week in a prison in the western state of Lara, where in January last year 60 were killed and 120 wounded during a riot and clash with security forces.
According to local media, on Monday morning a group of prisoners began a hunger strike and protest at the David Viloria (previously Uribana) prison to demand the removal of the jail’s new director and better conditions.
The Minister of Penitentiary Affairs, Iris Valera, said that the protest also occurred “because order is being established in the prison and the privileges of a group of inmates were eliminated”.
Authorities reported that during the protest, a group of prisoners took control of the institution’s medical facilities. They proceeded to raid and consume medicines such as antibiotics, pure alcohol, and drugs for epilepsy and hypertension, it was claimed.
As a result, the prisons ministry statement reported, 13 prisoners died and another 145 were left poisoned. Order was restored in the prison and those intoxicated are receiving medical attention. Assistance is also being offered to the inmates’ families.
“The acts registered have not infringed upon the internal regime of discipline, absolute respect for human rights, comprehensive attention to the incarcerated population and control of the prison”, the ministry statement read.
An investigation into the events surrounding the deaths has been launched by the Attorney General’s office.
Venezuela’s prison system is known for extreme overcrowding, poor conditions, and internal corruption that in some cases leaves control of prisons with bosses on the inside.
The Ministry of Penitentiary Affairs was set up in 2011 to tackle these problems, including reducing levels of prison violence and the backlog of un-reviewed prisoner cases.
The ministry’s statement argued that despite the events this week in the David Viloria prison, “In all of the country’s penitentiary institutions there is advancement toward the consolidation of a new regime where discipline, work and study must reign for all inmates”.