Ecuador: riot in prison kills 68 people

It is a new tragedy which strikes the Ecuadorian prison of Guayaquil. A riot between inmates, which began Friday, November 12, left 68 dead and 25 injured, the attorney general’s office said. A first assessment reported 58 dead.

These events, marked “By greater violence than usual”, are “The result of a territorial dispute between criminal gangs inside the penitentiary”, Police Commander Tannya Varela said. The intervention of the police to try to restore order in the prison has ” save lives “, said Pablo Arosemena, governor of the province of Guayas (whose capital is Guayaquil). He blasted “The level of savagery” assailants.

In a tweet, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso presented his “Sincere condolences to the families who have lost loved ones”.

This same prison had been the scene, at the end of September, of one of the worst prisoner massacres in Latin America : 119 detainees had been killed. Some of them had been dismembered or burned in these violent clashes between gangs linked to drug trafficking and Mexican cartels.

As was the case during the September 28 massacre, families of detainees were gathered, early Saturday morning, in front of the Guayaquil penitentiary, trying to hear from their loved ones or shouting in despair at the news of the death of one of theirs. “They are human beings, help them”, could one read on a banner carried by these families, contained by a deployment of police and soldiers supported by a tank.

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In this prison, which houses 8,500 prisoners and whose overcrowding reaches 60% according to official figures, the violence has not stopped since.

After the September incidents, 15 other detainees were killed. In February, 79 inmates had died in simultaneous riots in several prisons. Riots in Ecuadorian prisons have claimed more than 250 lives since the start of the year.

The September massacre prompted the Ecuadorian government to declare a state of emergency for the prison system for sixty days, with the army supporting the police in an attempt to bring order to the country’s sixty-five prisons. They can accommodate 30,000 people but are occupied by 39,000 prisoners, an overcrowding of 30%. Weapons of all kinds, drugs and cell phones circulate there in large numbers. They are the scene of a bloody rivalry, in particular between the formidable Mexican cartels of Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

Located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s main producers of cocaine, and used as a transit zone for shipment to the United States and Europe, Ecuador faces an increase in crime linked to trafficking in drugs, in particular in Guayaquil, a port city and economic center of the country.

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The World with AFP

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Ecuador: riot in prison kills 68 people