The Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones [Venezuelan Prison Watch, OVP] reported today that as many as 30 inmates have been killed in unrest inside the Acarigua jail in Portuguesa state.
According to El Universal, the Public Ministry confirmed that the event had taken place. However, that report said that only three inmates had been killed.
The jail is located inside the municipal police headquarters in Acarigua.
The OVP–a non-governmental organization that tracks the prison system in Venezuela–called the event “a massacre”, and said that it comes at the end of at least ten days of unrest at the prison. According to the OVP:
After Holy Week, the inmates asked that their visitors be allowed to stay the night in the prison. That request was denied by the director of the [Acarigua Police], commissioner Guillermo Lopez. Starting then, a series of confrontations between the inmates and the authorities began to unfold.
The OVP claims that as the standoff between the two sides deteriorated, the authorities halted all visits to the jail. The ban on visitors severely reduced the amount of food available to inmates since so much of it comes from their own relatives, a fact that resulted in a hunger strike from the prisoners. According to the OVP, the objective of the hunger strike was to force the government to send a representative from the Public Ministry to visit the facility and hear their grievances.
In total, the prisoners had nine requests, including that the authorities allow visitors into the jail again, that they replace the facility director, and that they allow church and sports groups to operate inside the jail.
None of the requests were granted.
According to the OVP, the authorities decided to bring an end to the hunger strike by force during the overnight hours. The NGO is reporting that all of the fatalities are prisoners.
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