Venezuela Prison Crisis Continues with 13 Dead

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Attempts at reform have failed to halt the crisis in Venezuela’s prison system, where 13 inmates have died and 62 been wounded since the new prison minister was appointed a month ago, reports newspaper El Universal.

In the latest incident, a riot which began on Wednesday left four inmates dead and eight seriously injured in Uribana prison in Lara state, in the northwest of the country.

The conflict reportedly broke out after visitors’ day was suspended, and two grenades were detonated in the ensuing struggle.

A group of prisoners have taken over a wing of the prison, which they continue to hold, and have declared a hunger strike, demanding better conditions.

President Hugo Chavez created the post of prison minister following a 27-day standoff with inmates in El Rodeo II prison, and appointed Iris Varela on July 26.

As InSight Crime has reported, Varela promised extensive reforms to tackle overcrowding and violence in the country’s penal system and to turn prisons into “centres of formation of the new man.”

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