DEADLY RIOTS IN VENEZUELA’S PRISONS

Venezuela

On 8 May, 47 inmates were killed and 75 more were injured in a prison riot at Los Llanos penitentiary in Venezuela, in what has become a “war” between security forces and prisoners. Chronic food shortages and a lack of sanitary living spaces — both further exacerbated by the coronavirus — have led to widespread violent riots breaking out around Venezuela for months. Many inmates in Venezuelan prisons rely on food brought in by family members to survive, but the country’s COVID-19 lockdown has significantly reduced the amount of food brought in, causing high tension among inmates. The conditions suffered by Venezuelans, both in and out of prisons, have led to the Human Rights Watch launching an investigation into the government’s treatment of those hardest hit by the current economic crisis. The issues facing Venezuelan inmates is not isolated to Los Llanos, however. Several facilities in Venezuela, as well as in El Salvador, Colombia, and Peru have experienced an increase in protests and clashes between inmates and guards due to poor living conditions.

From a Christian perspective, those imprisoned in Venezuela and other Latin American countries have been subjected to abhorrent living conditions, facing major food shortages and a lack of basic sanitation for years. The conditions of those incarcerated, along with other marginalised groups have seen little improvement from the government over the last several months, as the economic crisis has deepened. The Catholic Church is the predominant religious institution in Venezuela, and as such, has stepped in and taken a two-pronged approach in bringing relief to those suffering the most. The Church has a responsibility to step up and care for those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, or in prison. Matthew 25: 45 says “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

Pray with us for the following:

  • For a restoration of peace and stability within the Venezuelan government
  • For provision of the necessary resources to provide food, etc. to the most marginalised communities, including those in prison
  • For the Church’s actions to spark greater love, peace, and forgiveness

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File image: REUTERS/Manaure Quintero

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