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Wilmer Brizuela, a.k.a. Wilmito, was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2004 at the Vista Hermosa prison in Bolivar State for kidnapping. He was assessed by a psychological team as having no regard for human life as well as no ability to feel remorse for his actions. Within two years of his arrival, Wilmito became the pran of the prison, which is the title taken by prisoners who rise to the top of an institution’s hierarchy to run it as a kind of fiefdom.

During his tenure as pran of Vista Hermosa, Wilmito’s illegal activities – which include drug trafficking and extortion – have netted him enough profit to build five discos inside the prison, a movie theater, as well as his own personal bunker from which he runs his prison business.

Two days ago, Wilmito was injured in a shooting in the Parguito Beach in Margartia Island where was vacationing with his family. National Assembly deputy Delsa Solorzano called the fact that Wimito had somehow been granted permission to leave prison “unbelievable”, after he appears to have been granted parole by Minister of Penitentiaries Iris Varela on December 18 of last year.

Wilmito was travelling in a vehicle when an unknown number of attackers opened fire. He was shot through the left arm and in the armpit. The vehicle’s three other occupants, including an eleven year old boy presumed to be Wilmito’s son, were also injured.

Varela has been Minister of Penitentiaries since 2011, and has often been accused by opposition critics for her close ties to the country’s pranes.

Five Dead After Eating Bitter Yams

Five people in the Catia neighbourhood of Caracas – four of them belonging to the same family – have died after becoming poisoned by toxins found in bitter yams. The victims ranged in age from 19 to 65.

Surviving family members said that the yams were purchased from a street vendor on Saturday, February 18 at a price of Bs. 1000/kilogram. The family began to eat the yams that same day, and after beginning to show symptoms that afternoon, the first fatality occurred on Monday at approximately 5:00 AM.

Normally, bitter yams are not cultivated for human consumption given the fact that, unless processed carefully, the toxins that they contain could cause death. However, according to Wikipedia:

Bitter yams are not normally eaten except at times of desperation in poor countries and in times of local food scarcity.

A surviving relative told El Universal:

Innocent people are dying because there’s no quality control here. These street vendors don’t care, and they don’t even know that they’re selling poison.

Venezuela’s ongoing economic collapse has taken a heavy toll on peoples’ diets. The results of the Living Conditions Survey released last week showed that in 2016, 75% of Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds unwillingly due to a combination of food scarcity and out-of-control inflation making already meagre earnings worthless.


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