World Venezuela inmates seize control of prison ahead of election

09:55  17 may  2018
09:55  17 may  2018 Source:   cnn.com

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Inmates are believed to have taken over Venezuela ’s most notorious political prison ahead of presidential elections on Sunday. The political prisoners have peacefully taken control of it

Inmates masking their faces seized control of a prison in Venezuela in a protest against alleged mistreatment. The gang took a guard hostage at the jail in the capital city of Caracas during unrest which saw one prisoner killed.

CARACAS, VENEZUELA, AUG 17: © by Cristóbal Alvarado Minic/Moment Unreleased RF/Getty Images CARACAS, VENEZUELA, AUG 17: "El Helicoide" ("The Helix") in Caracas, although unfinished, is one of the most important symbols of the Modern movement in Venezuela. This 73,000 square meter project, designed in 1955 by architects Jorge Romero Gutiérrez, Peter Neuberger and Dirk Bornhorst, appears as a double spiral topped by a geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller. Today, it serves as the headquarters of Venezuela's National Intelligence Agency.

Inmates have revolted and taken control of a notorious prison in Venezuela, as the volatile country braces for presidential elections decried as illegitimate by regional leaders.

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Inmates at an immigration detention center in Raymondville, Texas seized control of the facility over the weekend, setting off a standoff with federal authorities. Representatives of the FBI and Federal Bureau of Prisons had been on the scene negotiating with the incarcerated population.

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Men identifying themselves as prisoners posted videos online saying they had taken over a detention center in the Helicoide ("the Helix"), the headquarters of intelligence agency Sebin in the capital, Caracas, because of torture and human rights violations.

Footage posted on social media purported to show prisoners walking freely inside the facility, breaking cell locks and demanding their immediate release.

The US embassy in Venezuela expressed concern over the incident, after an American political prisoner Joshua Holt, a former Mormon missionary from Utah, posted a video on social media saying he feared for his life.

Venezuelan authorities later said they had "normalized" the situation at the prison, but inmates refuted the claim.

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Prison conditions so 'squalid' inmates 'crunch cockroaches underfoot'. HMP The Mount: inside sources state staff have lost control of at least one wing, possibly two. Hungarians queue to vote in their country's general election , in central London.

2006 Apr 3, Venezuela seized control of oil fields from France's Total SA and Italy's Eni SPA in a 2010 Apr 12, In Venezuela knife-wielding prison inmates killed seven other prisoners and country's internal affairs ahead of an election set next month to replace the late President Hugo Chavez.

Venezuelans will head to the polls Sunday to elect a new president as the country is roiled by an economic and social crisis, with millions suffering food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation and growing insecurity.

In a statement released on Monday, representatives from 10 Latin American countries along with Spain and the United States reiterated their "condemnation of the authoritarian regime" of President Nicolas Maduro. The group also issued a final request for the government to suspend the elections.

There have been repeated calls from leaders in the region to suspend the election because it is "illegitimate" and lacking in "credibility."

The Helicoide prison's inmates include jailed opponents of Maduro, as well as US citizen Holt, many of whom have expressed fears over their safety and asked to be freed in postings on social media.

"Joshua Holt and other political prisoners are in danger," the embassy tweeted on its verified account. "The Venezuelan government is directly responsible for their safety and we will hold them responsible if anything happens to them."

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The riot was based in part upon prisoners ' demands for better living conditions. At the time, inmates were given one shower per week and one roll of toilet paper per month. Under order of then Governor Nelson Rockefeller, state police took back control of the prison .

Thousands of federal prisoners will have to be moved to other penitentiaries after 2,000 inmates armed with pipes set fire to part of a South Texas prison after seizing control of the area.

Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek Saab later stopped short of claiming the government had regained full control of the detention center in the capital, saying the situation had "normalized".

Speaking to CNN Espanol, Saab said the uprising was "a protest on behalf of the prisoners" and that he had sent a delegation to hold dialogue with the prisoners, which had reached a "positive agreement".

Saab rejected prisoner claims of torture, extortion and minors being held inside the center.

Prisoners, speaking to CNNE, denied that the authorities were in control.

"Inside the prison, all the prisoners are in control. And at that this moment, the people from the government who have approached us have not offered any solutions, none," Daniel Ceballos, a prisoner and former opposition mayor said, adding they were all resisting and asked that for the public to resist alongside them.

Todd Robinson, US Embassy charge d'affaires in Venezuela, told reporters outside the country's foreign ministry Wednesday: "The truth is we don't know anything and it seems like the authorities don't know anything either."

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