Inmates inside the Rodeo prison complex in Guatire, Miranda state, took prison director Yasmin Gabana hostage late last night. Along with Gabana, several prison guards appear to be among the hostages. According to relatives of the inmates, Gabana has not been harmed. According to the inmates, Gabana was taken hostage in retaliation for the cancellation of visitations and for  violations against their human rights. The inmates are demanding to speak with Iris Varela, Minister of Penitentiaries.

As soon as news of the hostage taking spread, anxious family members began to congregate outside the prison. Late last night,  National Guard troops arrived at the scene to attempt to restore order.

Yesterday morning, inmates in Wing II and Wing III of the prison began to protest against the food in the prison and against the beatings some of them claim to receive from guards. By Friday afternoon, with the protest showing no sign of subsiding, the prison leadership decided to cancel visitation rights, a decision to which some of the inmates responded to with the hostage taking.

El Nacional reports that National Guard troops dispatched to the prison opened fire at some point during the night, injuring five inmates.

The approximately 560 inmates involved in the mutiny include two students arrested earlier this year in Caracas for protesting.

Below, two images of the prison:

Venezuelan Prisons No Strangers to Anarchy

Venezuelan prisons are hellish. Day-to-day conditions for inmates are primitive, and clashes with security forces are not uncommon.

Early last year, a riot at the Uribana prison near Barquisimeto left at least 61 people dead. In 2012, a shootout between rival groups inside the Yare I prison in Caracas resulted in 25 deaths. In 2011, a riot inside the Rodeo complex resulted in heavy fighting between rival prison groups and the National Guard, leaving at least 22 people dead.

Below, a video showing National Guard troops firing into the Rodeo prison during the 2011 riot:

This second video shows National Guard soldiers moving around the prison, also in 2011. It is ironically titled “Rodeo II: ‘Rescuing’ the Prisoners”:


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