The PGV is just one small glimpse of hell

The Guardian’s Virginia Lopez offers a inside look into the General Penitentiary of Venezuela (the PGV), located in Guárico State. While she’s not the first journalist to go inside this prison, she offers a hair-raising report. The PGV is dubbed “the Beverly Hills of Venezuelan prisons”, but that doesn’t change the fact that behind its…

Games people play

When the final chapter in chavismo is written (and I’m one of the few that think this will happen sooner than most think) one of its most glaring mistakes will be how they sacrificed governance for politics. We elect governments, in part, because of politics, because of the game they bring to the ring. Many…

A hard day at Uribana (Updated)

Today, personnel of the Prisons Ministry along with soldiers of the National Guard tried to inspect Uribana Prison (located outside Barquisimeto) for illegal materials. The procedure was supposed to be low-profile in nature. But a local journalist found out, thanks to the very not-so-subtle presence outside of at least ten military light tanks. There was…

Life imitates “Cárcel o Infierno”

Just as a friendly reminder that, outside the Chávez Deathwatch bubble, life in Venezuela remains just as fucked up as it ever was, consider this: the pran (read: prison gang leader in charge of day-to-day running of the jail) at Yare I jail has been murdered, after a stray bullet at a meeting between prison gang leaders…

Great reading for the day

Don’t miss this reportage by the supremely talented Maye Primera (in Spanish), an excerpt of an upcoming book, courtesy of Prodavinci. It’s about the deaths in the Retén de Catia twenty years ago. It’s sad to see that impunity lives on, in spite of chavismo’s empty promises. And … on a slightly lighter note (!),…

Accomplices Galore

I’m with Juan here. It’s not as if Judge Afiuni’s rape and torture story is some kind of freak exception. The dire, dire human rights situation inside Venezuelan jails has been public knowledge for years. Venezuelan human rights bodies have researched it in detail. International human rights organizations have written about it ad nauseam. Hell,…

8,191,132 rapists

Yesterday we learned that Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni, Hugo Chávez’s most visible political prisoner, was tortured and raped while in jail. She bravely told her story in a book by Venezuelan journalist Francisco Olivares. The situation at the INOF women’s prison – where sexual assault and prostitution are the norm – is nothing short of…

Anything goes in order to win

The original talanquera-jumper Francisco Arias Cárdenas faces an uphill battle to win the Zulia State Governorship, even if the comandante presidente won last month in Maracuchistan and he’s keeps giving away houses as the Chavernment’s parallel governor. But the first opinion polls (one of them released by the opposition’s camp) says incumbent governor Pablo Pérez is…

A peek inside PGV

To my chronic frustration, we never get a proper chance to look inside Venezuelan prison walls. That’s why Ross Kemp’s Extreme World documentary on crime in Venezuela deserves such high praise. I’m not able to embed it, but you can watch it here. (The best bit starts just after the 13:35 mark.) Not that it’s a…

Dragunovs in Hell

According to one press report, inmates involved in last weekend’s Yare I riot had at least 100 assault rifles (!!), an M60 machine gun (500 rounds per minute to you and me), a number of grenades, some plastic explosives and several Dragunov sniper rifles. How does a jailed criminal get his hands on a high powered, Military-grade Russian gun that…

Were La Planta transfers involved in the Yare riot?

Yesterday, at least 20 people, including one visiting relative, were killed in a grisly fight between rival gangs at Yare Jail, former Zip-code of a comandante presidente who shall not be named. The shootout comes three months after the huge fight between the National Guard and the inmates in La Planta jail that ended with hundreds…

Foucault in Tocorón

Este artículo se publica en español en Prodavinci. In the wake of news of yet another extraordinarily violent prison riot, we’re reminded once more that Venezuelan prisons are a kind of hell, but do we know what kind of hell they are? That’s what I kept asking myself as I watched Jail or Hell, Luidig Ochoa’s hard-hitting…