Ecuador: 68 dead in prison riot

It is a new tragedy which strikes the Ecuadorian prison of Guayaquil. Clashes of extreme violence between gangs of detainees took place, Friday 12 and Saturday 13 November, in this penitentiary in the southwest of the country, where at least 68 prisoners were killed in twenty-four hours and 25 others injured.

Mutilated and burned bodies, scenes of great “Savagery”, ” barbarity “… With bladed weapons, firearms and explosives, the riot began Friday evening in block 2 of this vast penitentiary center, the largest in the country.

Saturday evening, while the police had nevertheless assured to have entered the same morning in this block 2, the spokesman of the presidency Carlos Jijon had recognized that “New incidents were occurring inside the penitentiary”, with “Attacks from one neighborhood to another”, before finally declaring the situation ” under control “. Nearly 900 police officers were deployed to deal with the incidents, including 500 inside the prison complex.

President Guillermo Lasso “Holds a meeting with the high command of the armed forces and the police, a crisis cabinet has been set up”Mr Jijon said on Saturday evening. The head of state “Invited representatives of civil society to start organizing a dialogue inside the prison in order to put an end to the barbarism taking place there”.

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According to the governor of the province of Guayas (of which Guayaquil is the capital), Pablo Arosemena, “The exchanges of fire were very intense, very close to the entry doors of the penitentiary, with detonations”. The attackers have “Tried to besiege, to corner” the detainees of block 2. The head of this block, known as the leader of the “Tiguerones”, was released on Wednesday after serving 60% of his sentence. “This cell block [avec quelque 700 prisonniers] now being without a leader, other blocs, along with other gangs, tried to break them down, enter and carry out a total massacre ”, explained the governor, denouncing the “Savagery” attackers, who used explosives to pierce the walls. From block 2, the violence quickly spread to other cell blocks, where criminal gangs (“Tiguerones”, “Lobos” and other “Latin King”) linked to drug trafficking are reigning terror.

The huge prison located on the outskirts of Guayaquil houses 8,500 inmates, with overcrowding reaching 60%. On September 28, 119 people died in identical circumstances, in the largest massacre in Ecuador’s prison history and one of the worst in Latin America. Some detainees had been dismembered, beheaded, or burned.

State of emergency declared in September

After the massacre, President Lasso proclaimed “The state of exception” in the sixty-five Ecuadorian prisons, promising in particular the deployment of significant military reinforcements. On October 12, however, the Constitutional Court limited the duration of this “State of exception” at the end of November, and prohibits the military from entering prisons.

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On Saturday, the president criticized this high legal body, seeing in this new bloodbath a “Alarm signal for the institutions of the Ecuadorian state, in particular the Constitutional Court”.

The violence has not stopped since September in the prison, despite multiple announcements from the government. Fifteen detainees have been killed since the end of September, and several incidents were reported this week. With the latest massacres, riots in Ecuadorian prisons have left more than 308 dead since the start of the year.

On Saturday, dozens of families of prisoners, anxious or in tears, gathered in front of the penitentiary. “They are human beings, help them”, could we read on a banner. In a tweet, President Guillermo Lasso presented his “Sincere condolences to the families who have lost loved ones” and requested the establishment of“Appropriate institutional tools” to face this new prison crisis.

The sixty-five Ecuadorian prisons 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.

Located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s main producers of cocaine, and used as a transit zone for shipping to the United States and Europe, Ecuador is facing an increase in drug trafficking-related crime. , in particular in Guayaquil, port city and economic center of the country.

The World with AFP

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Ecuador: 68 dead in prison riot