Prisoners take 22 hostages at Venezuela prison

AP News
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Posted: Apr 28, 2011 8:19 PM
Prisoners take 22 hostages at Venezuela prison

Inmates took 22 employees hostage at a Venezuelan prison to demand human rights guarantees and improved living conditions, authorities said Thursday.

The uprising inside El Rodeo prison began Wednesday, when inmates complained of a tuberculosis outbreak inside the lockup about 30 miles (45 kilometers) east of Caracas.

"Yesterday an irregular situation began involving some people who have been held against their will by prisoners," Deputy Justice Minister Edwin Rojas told the state-run AVN news agency.

Rojas said the government was trying to resolve the standoff by talking to the inmates.

But he added that authorities "cannot allow demands to be made under these conditions because we have 22 people there, including men and woman who are social workers from the prison."

The prison's director and human rights activists were among the hostages, Rojas said.

Violence is common in Venezuela's overcrowded and understaffed prisons, as is the case in many parts of Latin America.

Some corrupt prison guards help inmates gain access to firearms and other weapons.