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Relatives demand answers after deadly Venezuela jailhouse fire

31 Marcha 2018

"We are appalled by the terrible deaths of at least 68 people in Venezuela after a fire swept the jail of a police station on Wednesday in the wake of alleged clashes between detainees and members of the security forces".

Police station lockups, like the one in Valencia, are especially plagued by overcrowding, allegedly due to prolonged preliminary detention periods amid trial backlogs. Reports say many of the inmates died of smoke inhalation. The dead included two women thought to have been visiting the jail at the time of the incident.

The existence of 500 improvised detention centers is at the root of the latest tragedy, Carlos Nieto, a lawyer and head of the “Ventana a la Libertad” NGO told LAHT during a phone interview. The Venezuelan government also plans to construct about 23,000 homes using funds obtained from the pre-sale of petro.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, who has called for against the petro, said he the new sanctions, but added that the "international community must continue coordinated efforts to increase pressure on the Maduro regime".

"We guarantee that we will carry out a thorough investigation to immediately clarify these painful events, which have (meant) mourning for dozens of Venezuelan families", Saab wrote.

Relatives waited for officials to hand over the remains of loved ones killed in the jailhouse fire. Prisoners set fire to mattresses.

"Juan Guillermo Cuadrado estará en el banquillo contra el Milan": Massimiliano Allegri
Cuadrado regresará a la actividad después de tres meses de estar por fuera por una pubalgia que lo obligó a someterse a una cirugía.

Residents and activist groups demanded an explanation for one of the worst catastrophes in the nation's notoriously overcrowded jail and prison system. Maduro tweeted messages about the Easter holidays and his recent meeting with Hollywood actor Danny Glover but did not refer to the Valencia deaths.

The medical brain drain is being felt more acutely in public hospitals, already operating at levels comparable only to the poorest countries, with women sometimes giving birth in waiting rooms and wounded patients treated on the floor.

Speaking to Reuters from a hospital bed on Thursday, Trejo recounted being awoken at 7 a.m. on Wednesday by gun shots he said were being exchanged by police officers and prisoners.

A video posted on Twitter showed dozens of people demanding information in front of police guarding the site. The second, after fire recorded in Sabaneta prison in state of Zulia, more than 20 years ago, where 108 people died.

But opposition politicians said the disaster was another sign of the ruling socialists' incompetence in a country that is deep in economic crisis and is plagued with food shortages, hyperinflation, and rampant crime. One person who spoke to the Associated Press said that she doesn't know if her son is dead or alive. She said authorities had told her the fire was sparked by a short circuit. The authorities claim they withheld estimated casualty counts out of respect for the families.

"Everyone in Venezuela lives in a state of dependency - either on the government or remittances from abroad", he said.

Relatives demand answers after deadly Venezuela jailhouse fire