Venezuela Prison Standoff Ends After Hostages Released


Today in Latin America

Top Story — Inmates who had held hostage more than 50 guards and other prison workers in the Tocuyito lockup have released the final 12 hostages, ending a long standoff in which prisoners were demanding transfers. The prisoners released the hostages after authorities vowed to transfer hundreds of prisoners to another facility, according to Penitentiary Minister Iris Varela. The standoff ended when officials agreed to return 400 prisoners to El Rodeo, where many of the rebellious prisoners had been held before their transfer earlier this year to the Tocuyito facility. The hostage situation sparked debate over Venezuela’s prisons, which are overcrowded and guns and drugs are commonplace. President Hugo Chávez has recognized the problem in within the prison and Varela has vowed to come up with solutions. Varela said government authorities were launching an investigation into allegations that prison guards at Tocuyito took bribes and allowed inmates to obtain firearms and grenades.

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