Venezuela Prison Opens Nightclub in Violence Reduction Strategy

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A Venezuelan prison marked the opening of a nightclub for inmates with an inauguration party complete with strippers and DJs, as part of an unconventional scheme to reduce prison violence.

Prisoners at the San Antonio prison on the Venezuelan island of Margarita used smart phones to coordinate the event, as well as to invite family members and friends through social networks, reported El Universal.

The new nightclub, called “El Yate Club” (the Yacht Club), has a capacity of 600 people, air conditioning and professional sound equipment, boasted the invitation sent by prisoners.

Prison Minister Iris Varela defended the recreational activities, saying they help to reduce prison violence.

InSight Crime Analysis

San Antonio prison is reportedly run by a drug trafficker called Teofilo Rodriguez, alias “El Conejo” and has already earned a reputation for its surreal atmosphere of heavily armed hedonism, with facilities including a palm-fringed swimming pool and a cock-fighting arena.

It is common for Venezuela prisons to be run by gang leaders like Rodriguez, known as “pranes,” who manage the prisons’ black market economies — particularly drug distribution — which are worth millions of dollars a year.

The position of prison minister was established in 2011 to address overcrowding and to reduce violence. Varela promised to establish sports and cultural programs for inmates, among other measures.

However, Venezuela still has one of the most violent prison systems in the region. Since Varela’s appointment, over 500 inmates have died and up to 2,000 have been wounded.

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