Venezuela: Governor Condemns ‘Massacre’ by State Police in Amazon Prison, 37 Dead

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (C), First Lady Cilia Flores (L) and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez (R) attend the commemoration of the 190 years of the Battle of Ayacucho and grade promotion ceremony of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces at the National Pantheon in Caracas, on December 9, 2014. AFP …
FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images

The governor of Venezuela’s inland Amazonas province denounced a “massacre” Wednesday at a prison in his state, alleging that police acting at the behest of the socialist regime attempted to storm the prison and killed 37 inmates in the process.

Liborio Guarulla, governor of one of the most indigenous states in the country, has long stood against socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro and rejected objected to a socialist opposition plan to agree to participate in government-controlled elections.

“Massacre in the Port Ayacucho Detention Center (CEDJA), a takeover of the center by special forces of MRIJP [Ministry of the Interior, Justice, and Peace] left over 35 cadavers,” Guarulla wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

Guarulla went on to state that police killed 40 percent of the entire population of the detention center, previously 105 inmates.

Journalist Román Camacho posted photos of the incident on Twitter, adding that six federal officers were also injured.

The Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional confirmed that the final death count in the incident was 37 people.

Neither the governor nor eyewitnesses have publicly specified what caused the violence. The El Nacional report stated that social media reports surfaced Tuesday suggesting that inmates at the prison would not accept the removal of local guards and replacement of these with federal soldiers. Reuters adds more from local officials, who stated that the inmates “resisted” a takeover by Maduro’s soldiers.

The armed forces of Venezuela face substantial allegations of human rights violations from both opposition members, victims of the violence, and international human rights NGOs. Protesters arrested during anti-government demonstrations have testified to suffering beatings, sexual assault, and a variety of bizarre forms of torture, including the force-feeding of raw pasta with human feces mixed in. The Venezuelan military also controls the food supply in an increasingly famished country, reportedly triggering widespread bribery by the soldiers in possession of the hood.

Neither Guarulla’s tweets nor subsequent reports on the incident have clarified why the government in Caracas chose to invade a jail in distant Amazonas. One possibility lies in Guarulla’s outspoken opposition to the regime. In May, Guarulla, who is a member of Venezuela’s indigenous community, led an anti-socialist protest in which he invoked ancient curses against Maduro and his government. During a press conference, Guarulla vowed of the socialists, “before they die, they will suffer and their souls will haunt the darkest and most pestilent places before they can close their eyes.”

Hours before Wednesday’s raid, Guarulla announced on Twitter that he would not stand in government-controlled gubernatorial elections scheduled for October. In August, following the July 30 election to create the “national constituents assembly,” the election technology company Smartmatic announced that they had found proof of Venezuelan government officials tampering with the election results, leading many in the opposition to the conclusion that no election run by Maduro’s government deserved to be legitimized.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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