As The Prison Crisis Worsens, Chavez’ Government Creates Yet Another Ministry

June 15, 2011

No problem shows more the incapacity and indolence of the Chavez administration as the prison problem. The number of prisoners has almost doubled since Chavez took over, as homicides have tripled in the country. But beyond the sheer numbers there is an incredible inhuman tragedy taking place in Venezuela these days and the Government “of the people” has been unable to deal with it.

Despite what you have read in the New York Times a week and a half ago, Venezuelan jails are a far cry from being the Country Club that the Margarita prison is. Most jails are sub-human boxes where prisoners live under conditions that should not be available on the planet. Even animals would live badly like that. Most prisoners are armed, not with knives and sharp objects, but with weapons ranging from pistols to machine guns. There are daily gang fights and within the prisons, the law is enforced by the prisoners and not the jailers.

Prisons are over crowded, very few new ones have been built since Chavez took over. Sanitary conditions are atrocious and food, as you can imagine is not meant for humans. Most prisoners eat what their relatives bring them.

In his never ending shuffle of Ministers of the Interior and Justice  (If my count is correct, there have been eleven Ministers, with one, Jesse Chacon, repeating in the position), Chavez has announced a dozen plans to solve the prison problem, with no significant effect.

The twelfth program was announced today and it is once again proof of how clueless the Government is: The Government will create a Ministry for the Prisons Regime.

It seems as if the Government every time it faces a crisis either it passes a new Law or creates a Ministry, despite the fact that in the most salient cases: Housing and Electricity, there was no impact whatsoever from either of the two solutions. In fact, things seem to get worse as the people in charge became entangled in the complexity of setting up new institutions and absorbing or merging into it existing ones. (When Chavez got to power he reduced the number of Ministries, they have doubled since)

The newest crisis also showed the lack of concern for people’s rights on the part of the Government. There was a riot at the El Rodeo prison, rumors spread that there were nineteen people dead, but the Government would not confirm it and access to the prison was closed. As family members surrounded the prison in a vigil to await the news, the Government took hours to confirm the deaths and over a day in releasing the names of those that died, which included nine evangelical pastors that apparently tried to mediate in the conflict. (I understand they were also prisoners)

Prison conditions are infrahuman in Venezuela and little has been done to improve them since Chavez took over. Because crime has soared, conditions are worse than they ever have been and there it is a free for all within the prisons. As Venezuelans we should all feel ashamed of this. These are human beings we are talking about and they are being allowed to live and die like animals.

Note added: Now there are reports that there are 30 dead, not 19 and at least 27 bodies have reportedly been examined at the Caracas morgue.

32 Responses to “As The Prison Crisis Worsens, Chavez’ Government Creates Yet Another Ministry”

  1. m_astera Says:

    All of us have the right to tell people how to live their lives? My my. Do we also have the right to imprison anyone who disagrees with how we think they should live?

    I will take this opportunity to tell you how to live your life: Turn off the TV, the worst drug and the source of most of the filth in American minds, throw it in the garbage. Go out and find some of those people that you call “filth” and have a conversation with them. Better yet, just ask a few questions and then shut up and listen.

    It really bothers me that people watch that TV trash and then go out in the street and act it out. We would live in a much more pleasant , fair, safe, and mature environment that everyone could thrive in if this TV filth were taken off the air.

    If 51% of your neighbors voted that you had to get rid of your TV or go to prison you would go along with that, right?

  2. firepigette Says:

    M Astera

    I don’t tell people how to live their lives,unless they ask me,though all of us have the right to do so.

    But if people who are using drugs present themselves on the street they have to face incarceration if those are the laws of the land.This is agreeable with me as Drugs and alcohol make the streets unsafe for all of us, and are proven to be harmful.

    We would live in a much more pleasant , fair, safe, and mature environment that everyone could thrive in if this filth were taken off the streets.However, what people indulge in to kill themselves within the confines of their own homes, and without minors involved, is of no concern to me.

  3. m_astera Says:


    There is a principle of common law of which the simplest expression is “habeas corpus”, show us the body. It means that in order to be charged with a crime there has to be an injured party. If a person chooses not to wear a seat belt while driving, where is the injured party? If a person chooses to take a drug that the official government licensed doctor didn’t prescribe for them, where is the injured party?

    The fact that you approve of restricting the freedom of choice of others even to the extent of jailing them and ruining their lives without any proof that they have caused harm to another does not make it right. There are likely many things that you do that I don’t approve of, but as long as you are not causing me harm, or obviously threatening me with harm, I gladly allow you to do what you like.

    The argument could be made that your attitude of thinking you have the right to tell others how to live their lives is directly threatening my well being and freedom.

    One simple question: What gives me the right to tell you what you may or may not do?

  4. firepigette Says:

    M Astera

    Obvious violence is not the only reason to be in prison.Those who peddle drugs are damaging the human race and putting us all in danger.Sometimes those who take them are doing so as well.

    Personally I like living in a country that attempts to separate those who love to damage, from those who don’t.

    I left Venezuela when there was no longer any desire to do so on the part of the government.

    If I were to complain about our prison system in the US , it would be that we don’t catch enough of these crazy- spoiled rotten sociopaths out there.I have no desire for them to live in the kind of misery they live in Venezuelan prisons, but I definitely want them far away from us.

  5. m_astera Says:


    Your point is what? I left the US in 2006 with no intention of returning as long as the present government remains and the population continues to go along with the system. You appear to be fine with the way things are, which would make you one of the reasons I left. Enjoy.


    Unlike you, apparently, I don’t get my news from or read the lame-ass huffington post. Here’s a link that documents US prisoners building patriot missiles:

    Or you can google it and get half a million hits.

    And exactly what does a Mexican immigrant testifying in Austin have to do with my comment about prisoners? Nothing, right? Just gives you another chance to show how shallow you are? I don’t need more proof of that.

  6. HalfEmpty Says:

    in the US, from what I’ve read, the majority of prisoners are in for non-violent crimes, most of them “crimes against the state”, i.e. non-violent and victimless crimes, mostly drug possession. But at least they have jobs; they can make 23 cents an hour building military hardware for the munitions contractors.

    It’s how we ride, got a problem with it? If you do, get in line and prepare to whine, cause we got global warming, sea killing, major oil spilling, franken-seed selling, racial opressing and imperialistic war to do before noon. We only throw non-violent criminals in jail between the hours of 1;30 and 3:15 on Tuesdays, so get a damn number and shut the fuck up.

    You’re next.
    Have a nice day.

  7. Speed Gibson Says:

    astera…. still spouting Huffingtonpost nonsense I see…… but here…this link is just for you…..

  8. Glenn Says:

    OT but here’s Chavez speaking out against Venezuelan private health clinics…..from Cuba where he’s recovery from surgery!

  9. m_astera Says:

    “Anyone know what percentage of Army generals rake in drug money?”

    I would assume 100%, some from actual involvement, the rest from getting payoffs. The irony is apparent.

    The reason I asked what percentage of prisoners were in for drug offenses is that in the US, from what I’ve read, the majority of prisoners are in for non-violent crimes, most of them “crimes against the state”, i.e. non-violent and victimless crimes, mostly drug possession. But at least they have jobs; they can make 23 cents an hour building military hardware for the munitions contractors.

  10. moctavio Says:

    Over half awaiting trial i understand

  11. Jeffry House Says:

    Were all the people who died already convicted of offences?

    Or were they awaiting trial?

  12. Glenn Says:

    The irony is Chavez has brought some of the threat on himself (no electriciy, anyone?)

  13. Glenn Says:

    Hey Doc you gotta keep your priorities straight! First, win (buy) and election. Second, continue to promise to fix everything, rotate ministers, stir up mischief in other countries, etc.

    I honestly think Chavez is hocking the country as he has never been so threatened as he is now, in spite or MUD!

  14. Dr. Faustus Says:

    Speaking of oil revenues increasing….

    Has anyone noticed the announcement today that the Japanese ‘loaned’ Pdvsa 1.5 B? Ramirez was quoted as having said that it was not similar to the Chinese loans, ….but in fact it was. The Japanese Ambassador in Caracas was quoted as having said that the loan would be repaid by ‘future’ shipments of 3 mill barrels of Santa Barbara light. Oh my. Much of Venezuelan oil assets, still in the ground, are being used as leverage for current loans, which are being squandered on a continuous basis. And they can’t even find a little bit of money to fix the prison systems?

  15. That is a good summary of the mismanagement of the country. However, there is still leeway to continue screwing up and not do anything about the problems. But Chavismo failed long ago, things have not improved despite oil revenues increasing by a factor of 8, imagine that!

  16. Bloody Mary Says:

    It’s clear that a new Ministry doesn’t have any sense (you can use or create a direction of the MIJ, and yes Bruni, the situation needs to be fix by the MIJ, of course together with new laws and even better a whole new country) unless:
    a- They look to make the people believe that something dramatic is going to be done to fix the situation;
    b- The government (correctly) assumed that the MIJ is a piece of crap;
    c- There are a relative of HC o the current Minister than wants to take more advantage of the huge resources to be used.
    d- Todas las anteriores……

  17. island canuck Says:

    Miguel, the count is now 37 dead according to one report:

    No wonder they didn’t want the families to visit yesterday.

  18. Gringo Says:

    Anyone know what percentage of Venezuelan prison inmates are imprisoned for drug-related offenses?

    Anyone know what percentage of Army generals rake in drug money?

  19. CarlosElio Says:

    Beginning at min 0:18, look at what the SOB said in January 2008.

    That man is a buffoon, and one very dangerous. His circus brings sadness and misery to all around.

  20. Bruni Says:

    One of the problems is that the Vzlan law is such that it is quite easy to be put in jail for anything and once in jail, the judicial system is slow and the jail terms excessively longs.

    This is not a problem for an interior minister but also for the judiciary and THE CONGRESS.

    Would anyone listen to me about the importance of changing the penal laws in Venezuela?
    Not even the opposition realizes that people cannot be sent to prison so easily and for such a long time.

  21. Felipe Says:

    In many ways, the govenrment is quite gifted at creating opportunities out of problems: Every crisis is a chance to create a new Ministry filled with more friends of the regime to siphon Venezuelan’s money off.

  22. IIRC according to the OVP; statistically speaking, one prisoner died everyday in 2010 and 2009.

  23. moctavio Says:

    True, but they are orders of magnitude worse today, more overcrowded and no rules and laws inside, the numbers of deaths per year is orders of magnitude above what it used to be.

  24. deananash Says:

    To be fair, the prisons were a total nightmare long before Chavez got his grubby hands on the reins of power. (Catia?)

    That said, after 11 years, Chavez owns this mess lock, stock and barrel. And his ‘solutions’, as always, will do nothing to improve things and will most likely make things worse.

    There now exists a clear moral imperative to free the country…

  25. maria gonzalez Says:

    Last week I visited a former concentration camp near Weimar in Germany,the Buchenwald Memorial. Sadly to say that your picture it has many similarities to the ones I saw in the exhibition in the Memorial. The differences is that in Venezuela the prisoners have weapons and can get family visits. How can this government can defined itself as “HUMANISTA”…my heart aches so much to see my country desintegrating 😦

  26. Daniel Says:

    Also, you have to imagine that after living in such conditions, anyone released from a Venezuelan prison is far from “rehabilitated”, but probably just endured the most gruesome criminal-boot camp of all times. Not everyone imprisoned is serving a life sentence, so all of the ones released from them are probably more likely to commit more crimes. If you think about it, these facilities are really more like “Crime Universities” than holding facilities.

  27. Charly Says:

    Reminiscent of Brazil forty years ago. Bureaucracy became so entrenched and heavy handed that the government decided a drastic measure to reign on it. The solution? O ministerio da Desburocratização. No kidding!

  28. RWG Says:

    I believe G. Marxist. If people know the prisons are so bad, they would not commit crimes. This means the prisons are full of innocent people.

  29. Groucho Marxist Says:

    “The number of prisoners has almost doubled since Chavez took over”

    IIRC, most of those haven’t even been condemned of anything. They’re in jail for years, still awaiting for their trial (like Judge Afiuni).

  30. m_astera Says:

    Anyone know what percentage of Venezuelan prison inmates are imprisoned for drug-related offenses?

  31. firepigette Says:

    “they are being allowed to live and die like animals.”

    A very passive aggressive way of implementing the death penalty without having to admit to it.Only in this way the death penalty would even include those whose crimes were not that bad.

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