More than 950 relatives of inmates are refusing to leave a Venezuelan prison in a protest to demand faster trial for inmates.
Prisons Minister Iris Varela says the relatives decided to "kidnap themselves" at the Yare I and II prison about 40 miles (70 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Caracas, during the New Year holiday. They include 800 women and 150 children and adolescents as well as a few men.
Varela says President Hugo Chavez has told authorities to negotiate peacefully.
State radio says Varela alleged on Tuesday that human rights groups financed by the CIA are trying to use the occupation "to destabilize the country."