After a mutiny at the Rodeo prison complex in Guatire left two people dead and eight others injured on Saturday, the Uribana prison near Barquisimeto, Lara state is experiencing its own unrest today.
Earlier in the day, inmates at the prison began a hunger strike to protest the way they are treated by prison authorities. According to the family members of some of the inmates, the problems seem to stem from the prison’s new director, Julio Cesar Perez. While this information has not been verified, family members have reported that inmates had their belongings burned by authorities, and that they have been submitted to frequent beatings.
The unrest appears to be affecting both the men’s and women’s wings of the prison.
Below, pictures of what appears to be a large group of inmates setting fires and barricades inside the prison:
Below, a video of the situation at the prison published today by the Barquisimeto newspaper El Impulso. The video features a woman in pink by the name of Yocselyn Yordy, who was released from the prison this morning, and provided testimony to the media regarding the prison conditions:
Man at 0:46: [We] feel sorry for them because they’re not animals. I think they’re people who’ve made mistakes. We all make mistakes. I make mistakes… but we have to show them some support because they’re not dogs.
Ex-Inmate in Pink: Well, inside, they mistreat us, they handcuff us to a stair [handrail?], they spray us with pepper spray… when you [the media] leave, my friends in there are going to suffer because they [the guards] are waiting for you to leave so they can do all that to them. The food has worms in it.
Reporter: What do they do to you? How do they mistreat you?
Ex-Inmate in Pink: They beat us. They make us do “exercise” but it’s not really exercise, it’s [censored – I can’t read her lips] because that’s what they call it. But, in front of you guys, they want to pretend [like nothing happens].
Reporter: How is the food?
Ex-Inmate in Pink: Bad. The food is bad.
Reporter: Is it true that there are pregnant women in there?
Ex-Inmate in Pink: Yes, there’s pregnant women in there. And even then they pepper spray them. I was in a sala de castigo [literally, “punishment room”] because they gave me a beating, and in fact, they wouldn’t take me to see the judge because I was bruised. And they also cut women’s hair if they misbehaved. I was lucky because they didn’t cut mine.
Reporter: How long were you in there?
Ex-Inmate in Pink: A month.
Reporter: [I can’t understand what he asks]? How else did they mistreat you?
Ex-Inmate in Pink: In the early morning… they can come out whenever they want. They make us do push-ups, [censored], and many of them can’t do them. The elderly women can’t do it. I have a friend who was transferred from San Juan, they gassed her and she had a seizure and they didn’t bring her out. They eventually brought her out cause her leg fell asleep. And they didn’t take her to a judge because they knew they would get in trouble.
Reporter: What’s the situation like under the new director?
Ex-Inmate in Pink: He mistreats us. He talks to us in a horrible way, as if he hadn’t come out of us [that is to say, “as if he was better than us”]. And he beats us with a stick because he always carries a stick with him. He personally beats us. He personally beat me.
Reporter: And what do the guards do?
Ex-Inmate in Pink: Well, some of them are O.K. Some of them are bad.
Reporter: And what about the men’s prison?
Ex-Inmate in Pink: I can’t tell you anything about them other than they’re getting ready to get in there and beat them.
Prisoners Chanting: We don’t like Julio [the director]! We don’t like Julio! We don’t like Julio!
Last year, a riot at the same prison left 61 people dead and 120 injured.
Dengue, Chikungunya Cases Decrease
The vice-president of Social Development and Missions, Hector Rodriguez, gave some official numbers regarding two of the most problematic mosquito-borne diseases in Venezuela: dengue and chikungunya. According to Rodriguez, there have been 80,335 and 26,451 recorded cases of dengue and chikungunya, respectively, in the country since the start of the year.
Hector also provided some good news, saying that it appears as if cases of the diseases appear to be levelling off:
It is with joy that we wish to inform the nation that for the first time, the growth curve for dengue and chikungunya has decreased this week. In other words, the battle we are fighting has taken a positive step.
Dengue – also known as dengue fever – causes severe body pain, fever and rashes, and has a fatality rate of 1-5%. While chikungunya is much less lethal, it causes extreme joint paint to the point of immobilizing patients, and recovery often lasts months or even years.