Commentary :: Civil and Human Rights : Crime and Police

Prisons in Venezuela: Extreme Violence, Extreme Indifference

° Abolitionist text about the facts of three Venezuelan prisons: Uribana, Guanare and Sabaneta. Traslated from El Libertario (# 49, 2007), the voice of the Comision de Relaciones Anarquistas

[“I know that my son is a living dead but I feel fine because he isn´t at the cut into pieces list”… Amanda Rojas, mother of José Rojas, imprisoned at Uribana, processed by the theft of four dairy young goats at the locality of Los Pilones, Lara State.]

2007 began as a wonderful year for the power elite. The overwhelming victory upon their electoral competitors fills with air the saturated space that belongs to the “revolution” and their supporters. However, the penitentiary space does not “share” the same spirit of victory and oxygenation that does the chavista bureaucracy and, on the contrary, the year 2007 began with a sort of aberrant riots that serve as a prelude of the coming violent times.

* Extreme Violence

The past January 2 of 2007, it was started the new year in penitentiary matter with a quarrel at the Uribana prison of the Lara State due to a internal power struggle leaving an outcome of 16 dead prisoners and more than 13 injured ones, according to the official version offered at the midday by the Chief of the staff of the CORE-4, colonel José Enrique Maldonado Lupuy. According to the unofficial information obtained, all the leaders of minimum, middle and maximum were killed and even mutilated in some cases, with spiked sticks, fire arms and others. The happening that began in the midnight of Monday gave the mentioned outcome and only in the morning hours were reestablished the control of the prison.

In a first moment it was told about a fragmentary grenade that were flied and caused the deaths, however, that was refused by the military chief and he said that it was a riot for the control of the prison. As usually happens in those cases, the relatives were located at various meters of the prison due to the area was taken over by the military and just after 1.5 hour it was known officially the names of the dead imprisoned. In the morgue of the Hospital Central, the scenes of pain and desperation were growing while the unofficial information was passing from person to person between friends, relatives and even curious ones.

As it would be expected, the major “milico” of the CORE-4 filled his mouth telling that “the situation is under control”, applying for it the reorganization of the prison, the transference of the imprisoned implied on the crimes, counting on 200 men of the Guardia Nacional for stepping up vigilance in the external areas of the prison while the officials of the Ministerio de Interior y Justicia tried to control the internal areas. After the slaughters of that Monday, the January Wednesday 3, six of the imprisoned transferred from Uribana to Guanare resulted dead in a collective riot. It was told that it was an act of vengeance due to the happenings of the Uribana prison.

* Extreme Indifference

The Venezuelan population has become accustomed to live with the disasters generated inside prisons as it would be something natural. However, maybe the worst of it all is to look into the indifference and slovenliness that the red bureaucrats observed the situation. Beginning with the new Minister of Interior and Justice (MIJ), Pedro Carreño, that abstain himself from confirming the information about the riots, although he said that the Directora de Custodía y Rehabilitación, Fanny Márquez had moved to Guanare to know about the situation and informed that she will impulse the restructuring of the 25 prisons of the country as the messianic coming of the above-mentioned official could stop the violence between imprisoned and the absurd fact that restructuring an obsolete and out-of-date institution could get better the prison situation…

One person that does declare oneself against the situation was the Defensor del Pueblo (Ombdusman), Germán Mundaraín that regretted for the violence happenings in those penitentiary centers and for the general situation of the Venezuelan prisons because they “are against the well-known advances that – upon Human Rights – had been produced in other areas of society”. The aberrant cheek which is characteristic of the employees of the Venezuelan state seemed to be a “sine qua non” condition for occupying their positions. Another person in showing his cheek on that matter was the director of Sabaneta, Elí Ramón Salgado when he said that “everything is ok. The happenings of yesterday were a product of a confrontation among maximum security imprisoned and those of the so-called “prison”. The firsts tried to trespass to the seconds´s area and those killed them with fire arms.” As the imprisoned were animals, the officials shown a clear contempt for human life. Also, The Inter-american Court of Human Rights declared its preoccupation for the prison situation in Venezuela, but, as usual, this was not more than a text reproduced without any reflection about it in this Caribbean enclave.

* The mortal cycle

The extreme indifference which is shown by the authorities and the general society caused extreme violence as a mortal cycle. The lack of assistance, the slovenliness, the classical justification of a state where any arbitrariness has a justification – if you´ll forgive the repetition – are in a certain way the causes of those vandalism actions that only benefit the penitentiary authorities that are the first to introduce arms in the prisons. “Divide and Rule” tells a popular saying and this is the policy that is applied in prisons. For avoiding escapes and riots, the “authorities” are into favouring the riots between rival bands and they dispute for “territories” and in this manner maintaining a tense calm within prisons.

Uribana, Guanare and Sabaneta are premonitory cases of what could keep occurring. 8 years of Bolivarian “revolution” had been equivalent to 8 years of penitentiary carelessness. The social debt with the most forgotten sector of society is very big. No restructuring and no funds for get better the precincts: we, as anarchists demand the freedom of all the imprisoned and the substitution of the prisons for more human measures that do not carry the charge of freedom deprivation. Keeping them apart from society and imprisoning do not pay for the committed damage and do not rehabilitate to the individual. I don´t know if “socialism” is conquered by fighting but I do know that freedom does. Also, it is conquered demanding the just. We make a calling not only to the antiauthoritarian local movement but to the whole human race to put to a end to the prison system. To organize right now a big network reporting the arbitrariness’s that happens in prisons and to break the cynical informative blockage, to organize into groups of similar interests according to its own means and strategic possibilities, in the margins of any party or establishment that pretends to monopolize the anti-prison struggle, to study in depth about the abolitionist principle and far from the irrational violence that it is the way of the state. With nothing more to say but that we wait hopefully the fall of the Walls of Jerico and that the word prison would be a synonym of demolition. ¡¡¡ Down to the walls of prisons!!!

RODOLFO (cna_venezuela (at)
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An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.
-- Mark Twain
Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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