Venezuela Prison Riot Leaves 58 Dead, 46 Still Hospitalized

A battle between national guard forces and prisoners at Venezuela’s Uribana prison in western Lara state has left 58 dead, prisons Minister Iris Varela said today.

Forty-six people remain hospitalized and 49 have been released from hospital care and remain under medical supervision, Varela said on state television. Venezuelan authorities completed the evacuation of Uribana today after the riot on Jan. 25, Varela wrote earlier today in a message on her Twitter account.

“We have a regrettable balance of 57 people who died here at the prison as well as later as a product of injuries incurred here, plus the body of the person we found who was burned on these premises,” Varela said.

Fighting broke out Jan. 25 between guards and inmates prior to a planned search of the prison, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said yesterday.

“There was a situation of tragic confusion that we greatly regret,” Maduro said on state television. “The plan to reform our prisons will continue to ensure they aren’t ruled by violence, Mafia, drugs and death, as they have been for a long time.”

Varela said yesterday that local media alerted inmates to the imminent search for weapons by prison guards.

“If we have a state that cannot offer security in a prison, what can happen with the people in the streets,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski said in an e-mailed statement today. “If this had happened in another country, they would have at least changed the person responsible.”

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