Murder rate in Venezuelan jails 22 times higher than in the streets
Venezuelan dissenters called for the resignation of the minister of penitentiary affairs on the basis that 700 inmates have been killed since she took office in 2011
The opposition leaders pointed out that some 5,500 prisoners have been killed since President Hugo Chávez took office in 1999. They added that the current government has failed to build new penitentiaries, and, therefore, overcrowding in prisons exceeds 300%.
They estimated that 15,000 people have been injured in the same period.
In 2004, a state of emergency was declared and the construction of some new 25 prisons was announced, yet none has been built.
Dissenters have also claimed that the murder rate inside prisons is 22 times higher than that in the streets.
Since Minister Valera was appointed, three penitentiaries have been shut down, but none of the eight jails the Government promised to build has been completed.
In Venezuela, there are 31 prisons with a capacity to hold 11,200 inmates, but the inmate population amounts to 45,000.
Translated by Jhean Cabrera
The news marked an ominous beginning, health-wise, of the year 2015: the Cardiovascular Surgery Unit at Hospital Clínico Universitario, one of the country's largest teaching hospitals, was to close completely on January 5 due to lack of medicines and surgical supplies. All patients who were waiting to be operated on were sent home. More than 10 patients waiting for surgery reportedly died there from lack of basic medical supplies in the two months prior to the closure.