A mutiny at the National Bolivarian Police’s Centro de Cordinacion Policial headquarters in the Catia neighbourhood of Caracas left one detainee dead. The victim was Juan Bautista Infante, a 56 year old arrested two weeks ago for sexual assault, was beaten to death during the turmoil.
The mutiny began at approximately 8:45 PM last night. The headquarters – which also acts as a jail – erupted in violence when officers attempted to clean up some of the cells. The inmates managed to capture the centre’s ranking officer, Ciro Enrique Landaeta, and beat him before releasing him. A second officer, Alexander Palencia, was also taken hostage.
Below, an image of Palencia and his captors atop the main building of the centre:
As news of the mutiny began to spread through social media, relatives of the inmates blocked the Caracas-La Guaira highway to protest overcrowding in the jail and demand that their loved ones be removed safely from the premises. Carmen Blanco, a relative of one of the inmates, told El Nacional that on top of overcrowding, inmates deal with beatings from the guards, and a lack of clean drinking water.
Below, an image of the family members blocking a road near the centre earlier today:
Below, a video from the scene earlier today:
Man: We are here at the National Bolivarian Police’s Centro de Cordinacion Policialon Sucre [avenue] in Catia. Last night, 40 inmates took two officers hostage. They broke down the doors of various cells and then climbed on to the roof. Many of them are hooded, and they’re demanding they be transferred to prisons since their family members say some of them have been here for months pending their preliminary hearings. On top of this, family members say that they can’t count on optimal [sanitary/living] conditions here. This is Darvinson Rojas reporting from the scene.
Below, more images from the scene:
Inmates Demand to Speak with Gov’t Minister
The roughly 40 inmates in control of the facility are demanding to speak with the Ministry of Penitentiary Services Iris Varela over some of the abuses they claim to be the victims of at the hands of the police.
Family members told El Universal that whenever they bring food to the prison to help feed their loved ones, the guards charge a fee of Bs. 500 to deliver the food to them (Bs. 500 represents approximately 1/11th of the Venezuelan minimum monthly salary).
The sanitary conditions in the centre are also deplorable, and even basic toilet facilities are non-existent. Jacqueline Perez, a relative of one of the inmates, said:
They have to do their business in plastic bags.
Efe was able to speak to the self-proclaimed leader of the mutiny, a man who identified himself as Francesco Torti, along with the hostage, who said that the inmates were threatening to throw him off the roof if their demands were not met. Despite the threats, Palencia said, the inmates were not mistreating him too badly:
I’m in this situation that I don’t wish on anyone, but to tell you the truth I don’t have any complaints about the inmates. They haven’t beaten me. They’ve treated me well, and they’ve given me food and water.
Mutiny Ends with No Further Violence
At around 2:00 PM local time, authorities agreed to transfer 25 inmates to the Puente Ayala facility, and promised to improve the living conditions of those who remained in Catia. Alexander Palencia was released without further incident.
Unofficial Monthly Inflation Figures in Double Digits
While the Banco Central de Venezuela has not released official inflation data in months, the Indice Nacional de Precios al Consumidor released its own statistics for January and February. According to the number, the inflation rate for January was 10.6%. while that for February was 11.4%. If accurate, the annualized inflation rate (from February 2014-February 2015) currently sits at 96.3%.
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