The Observatorio de Prisiones (Venezuelan Prison Watch, OVP) issued an overview of the country’s prisons for 2019, painting a grim picture for the population housed in the facilities.
The overview came via Beatriz Carolina Giron, the organization’s director, who characterized 2019 as the year of hunger and disease for Venezuelan prisoners. She said that disease in prisons forms part of a “chain”:
… The inmate will get sick, and so will the guard looking over him… it’s a chain.
Giron also laid out some of the ways in which the Venezuelan prison system is fundamentally broken. She explained how prisons are overpopulated, and gave the example of the Boleita prison, which houses approximately 1,000 inmates even though it was built for a maximum of 200.
Giron also said that the OVP calculated that 60% of the country’s prison population was suffering from malnutrition and tuberculosis in the first half of 2019, demonstrating the state’s inability to care for prisoners. She explained:
These are alarming figures… when someone’s detained, they come under the responsibility of the state, which is something that no one seems to understand. No one should be dying in prison, because it’s a secure facility.
Giron also pointed out the particular plight of the country’s approximately 380 political prisoners, whom she claims suffer partially because “there are no clear rules” regarding their arrests and the conditions in which they are held.
Political Prisoner Escapes Ramo Verde
Captain Anyelo Heredia Gervacio, a political prisoner who had been held in the Ramo Verde military prison since 2017, escaped from the facility during the overnight hours. According to El Universal, two of the prison’s guards have been arrested for allegedly helping Heredia to escape.
Heredia was arrested on April 2, 2017 and charged with “treason against the homeland” and rebellion after he made an accusation at the Public Ministry about gasoline smuggling in Tachira state. He was subsequently accused of attempting to overthrow the government of president Maduro.
The Ramo Verde military prison is located south of Caracas and has housed some of the country’s most prominent political prisoners, including Leopoldo Lopez.
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