The deadly riots in Ecuador and other prison tragedies that marked Latin America

The deadly riots in Ecuador and other prison tragedies that marked Latin America

A day of fury. The simultaneous riots in four penalties of Ecuador they left at least 79 inmates dead, becoming the worst prison massacre in the country’s history, reported the National Service for People Deprived of Liberty (SNAI).

SNAI reported 37 deaths in two prisons in Guayaquil (southwest), 34 in a prison in Cuenca (south) and eight in Latacunga (center). Edmundo Moncayo, director of the SNAI, ruled out that among the fatal victims are personnel from the custody body, but mentioned that there were indeed injured officers; however, he did not specify the number.

Meanwhile, the Ombudsman’s Office described as “unprecedented massacreThe riots. Given this fact, President Lenín Moreno gave the order to the Ministry of Defense “exercise strict control of weapons, ammunition and explosives in the outer perimeters”To the penitentiaries.

It is important to note that these prisons account for 70% of the prison population in Ecuador. In the Latin American country there are 60 prisons, which have the capacity to house 29,000 people and in which there is an overcrowding of 30% (38,000 inmates). In addition, the security body comprises about 1,500 guards, registering a deficit of at least 2,500 guards, according to the AFP agency.

It is not the first time that an event like this has been recorded in prisons in Latin America. Similar situations have been registered in countries with Peru.

Castro Castro, Peru (2020)

In April 2020, a violent riot in the Castro Castro prison, in San Juan de Lurigancho, left nine inmates dead and 67 wounded among guards, police and inmates, according to the National Penitentiary Institute (INPE). The situation got out of control due to the fear of the prisoners before the arrival of COVID-19, thus reported El Comercio at the time.

The rebellion occurred after the death of two inmates due to coronavirus. Prisoners burned mattresses and hung posters calling for freedom in fear of contracting the virus.

The INPE had confirmed the death of two inmates of this prison by COVID-19 on Sunday and that the inmates’ claim revolved around the pardons offered by the government for the pandemic and the lack of medicines. The bodies were transferred to the Central Lima morgue for a legal autopsy with a diagnosis of a presumed bullet impact. Dismayed relatives of the prisoners gathered outside the prison, asking for information about them.

Manaus, Brazil (2019)

In May 2019, two days of clashes between prisoners left 57 dead in four prisons in the Brazilian state of Amazonas (north).

As stated in a statement by the Secretariat of Penitentiary Administration of Amazonas (SEAP), the deaths “would be motivated by a rupture between prisoners who were part of the same criminal group and who act in drug trafficking in the State.”

Forty-two of the prisoners died of suffocation, no knives or firearms were used in their killings, reported SEAP. The other 15 died during a fight at the Anísio Jobim Penitentiary Complex (Compaj).

SEAP also said that three of the prisons, where most of the deaths occurred, are nearby buildings, located about 28 kilometers from Manaus, capital of Amazonas. Until that year, Brazil kept more than 720,000 people behind bars, thus becoming the third country with the most prisoners in the world.

In May 2019, Brazilian authorities reported that 42 inmates died in four prisons in Manaus. The victims presented

In May 2019, Brazilian authorities reported that 42 inmates died in four prisons in Manaus. The victims presented “signs of death by suffocation,” they detailed. (Photo: Reuters)

Comayagua, Honduras (2012)

In February 2012, a fire broke out inside the Comayagua Penal Farm, in Honduras, which housed 853 inmates. More than 350 people lost their lives, including a woman who had spent the night in prison and the city’s fire chief. The national and international experts indicated that it was an accident.

Until that moment, no prison in Latin America had a tragedy of such magnitude, thus becoming the worst prison catastrophe in recent years.

The panorama outside the prison was heartbreaking, the families of the victims clamored for the delivery of the bodies of their loved ones.

“This is desperate, they don’t tell us anything and I think my husband is dead,” Gregoria Zelaya told Channel 5 TV (local media).

“I’m looking for my brother, we don’t know what happened and they won’t let us in,” Arlen Gomez told a local radio station, reported at the time.

On February 15, a fire of great magnitude in the Comayagua Prison, caused the death of 382 inmates, in the greatest tragedy to have occurred in a Latin American penitentiary. (Photo: Reuters)

On February 15, a large fire in the Comayagua prison caused the death of 382 inmates, in the greatest tragedy to occur in a Latin American penitentiary. (Photo: Reuters)

San Miguel, Chile (2010)

In December 2010, a fire caused by inmates of the San Miguel prison, in Chile, caused the death of 81 people and 13 were injured, some of them serving only preventive detention. The event occurred after pujas among the prison population.

This prison was prepared to house 1,100 prisoners, but at the time of the fire, it was inhabited by 1961, which for many authorities reflected the precariousness of the Chilean prison system.

The tragedy was described by the then Minister of Health, Jaime Mañalich, as the most serious event in the history of Chilean prisons.

According to him U Chile newspaperDespite this fact, it was able to motivate a series of changes in the prison system, 10 years later the situation has not changed at all.

The Chilean media indicates that according to the 2019 Penitentiary Statistical Compendium, the penal establishments had 41,977 people detained 24 hours during that year, both in concession and traditional prisons. However, the actual capacity of these establishments was 40,444.

Higuey, Dominican Republic (2005)

In March 2005, 135 inmates died and more than 20 were injured in a fire at the Higuey jail, which housed 426 inmates, more than double its capacity. According to investigations, the fire was caused by the inmates themselves, during a confrontation between rival gangs for control of the prison.

It all started when one of the inmates of the Vietnam ward repeatedly shot other inmates of a rival gang. The authorities reported that the prisoners were taken to the hospital. However, later the situation worsened, causing the cell locks to be locked. The inmates reportedly lit mattresses using insecticides and glues.

This was the greatest penitentiary tragedy in this country, where in 2002 a similar episode claimed the lives of 29 prisoners in the La Vega prison.

La Esperanza, El Salvador (2004)

In August 2004, in the La Esperanza Prison, in Mariona, El Salvador, a terrible massacre was carried out in which 24 inmates lost their lives. A fight between the Barrio 18 and La Raza gangs had a very bloody confrontation, as he described to the BBC Mundo, the international expert on gangs, Carlos García.

“La 18 and La Raza had already had a pact before and had joined forces to fight against the MS. But the 18 begins to feel very reduced and threatened and that is when they begin to plan this attack, ”explained García.

Garcia, who interviewed several of the survivors of this bloody confrontation and found evidence of major atrocities, notes the BBC. “There are testimonies of a prisoner of the 18 who opened his head with a stone and began to eat his brains in the middle of the corridors,” he said.

The wounds of the victims made it difficult to identify the bodies because several of the faces were unrecognizable, authorities said.

A tattoo on the chest of the ex-boyfriend who accused her of having committed dozens of murders saved Hebe from jail. (Reference photo: AFP)

A tattoo on the chest of the ex-boyfriend who accused her of having committed dozens of murders saved Hebe from jail. (Reference photo: AFP)

García told the BBC that it was not the first time that a fight between these gangs had been recorded in the prisons of El Salvador, but due to that massacre the government made the decision to segregate the rival gangs in different prisons.

Another BBC article indicates that El Salvador is the country with the second highest per capita prisoner rate in the world after the United States, and that its prisons are about to explode because they have a capacity for 18,051 inmates, but the system currently has more than 38,000.

Lisandro Olmos, Argentina (1990)

On May 5, 1990, a fire in the Lisandro Olmos prison, in Buenos Aires, would become the worst prison tragedy in Argentina. The fire took place in a ward that housed 44 inmates and would have started after an altercation. The following day, the head of the jail gave the names of the 33 victims to a group of family members, days later two more prisoners died, so the total death toll was 35.

The victims were between 29 and 42 years old and 70% of them had not yet been convicted. It was a special pavilion where inmates who had exemplary conduct remained and helped with spare parts and the construction of new cells in the prison, says the newspaper El País.

The country It also points out that the Buenos Aires Penitentiary Service has places for 24,000 inmates and the population under its charge exceeds 40,000 (this without counting underage detainees).

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.