Ecuador: New massacre at Guayaquil prison – At least 68 dead

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Scenes of extreme “bestiality” reappeared in Ecuador, as new clashes broke out between gangs of detainees in Guayaquil prison, during which 68 prisoners were killed.

The government, despite its many announcements, seems to be unable to control the serious crisis in the penitentiary system that the country has been facing for months.

With stab, with firearms and with explosives, clashes between prisoners began Friday night in the second wing of the large penitentiary in Guayaquil, the largest city in the southwestern part of the country.

“According to preliminary data, about 68 people deprived of their liberty (including prisoners) were killed and another 25 were injured.”, said the Office of the Attorney General, adding that it is conducting an investigation.

Earlier, giving an initial report, Ecuadorian police chief Tania Varela said 58 people had been killed, while police said they had “regained control” of the area where the massacre took place.

The events, marked by “More violence than usual”, was due to “a dispute over control of areas between gangs of thugs inside the prison,” the police director explained.

Blood on the walls

The intervention of the law enforcement forces “saved lives”, for his part assured Pablo Arosemena, the governor of the province of Waia, whose capital is Guayaquil.

The governor stigmatized the “level of bestiality” of attackers who “wanted to enter the second wing”.

Yesterday Saturday morning, the body of a detainee hung from the roof of the building, with its white walls marked by splashes of dried blood, before being removed by police officers with covered faces, a photojournalist of the French Agency found out.

Footage uploaded to social media sites, the authenticity of which has not been confirmed by an independent source, shows prisoners overnight in the inner courtyard of the prison, as they hit with batons corpses thrown on top of each other, lifeless, as they begin to become consumed by fire.

“We were locked in our wing. “They want to kill us all,” said a winged inmate begging for help in another video. “Please share this video. Please help us! “, the detainee adds, as in the background are repeated explosions.

Through Twitter, President Guillermo Lasso expressed “my sincere condolences to the families who lost loved ones.”

On September 28, 119 prisoners were killed under similar conditions in the same prison, No. 1 in Wales. It was the worst prison massacre in Ecuadorian history and one of the worst in Latin American history.

Some detainees were dismembered, beheaded or burned in episodes attributed to drug-linked gangs and dreaded Mexican cartels.

Following the massacre, which highlighted the dramatic worsening of the country’s long-running crisis in the country’s prison system, President Lasso declared a “state of emergency” in 65 Ecuadorian prisons, deploying reinforcements, including army units.

The prisons have a nominal capacity of around 30,000 places, but they currently house some 39,000 prisoners, in other words the surplus prisoner population is around 30%. Weapons of all kinds, drugs, cell phones are circulating in large numbers in prisons. Many have been turned into theaters for gang-related clashes involving the Mexican Sinaloa cartel and Jalisco Youth.

Between Colombia and Peru, the two countries that produce the largest quantities of cocaine in the world, Ecuador has become a drug trafficking platform due to its porous borders, its dollarized economy and its major export ports, especially Wales. economic capital of the country.

“They are human beings”

In the large prison on the outskirts of the city, where 8,500 inmates are being held, or in other words the surplus population reaches 60%, according to official data, the violence has never really stopped, despite the incessant announcements of President Lasso’s government about combating insecurity.

After the September massacre, another fifteen prisoners were killed in various “incidents”, according to the authorities.

With Friday’s massacre, deaths in riots inside Ecuadorian prisons have risen to at least 308 since the beginning of the year. In February, 79 detainees were killed in simultaneous violent incidents at four penitentiaries.

Yesterday Saturday, early in the morning, just like in late September, Dozens of families of detainees gathered in front of Guayaquil Prison to ask for news of their loved ones or to cry out in despair when they learned that their relatives had been killed.

“They are human beings, help them”, one read on banners held by some families, under the watchful eye of a powerful police and military force, who even had a battle tank.

Amid tears, Berta Yago, a 51-year-old aunt of an inmate who was injured in the leg by a machete in the episodes, sniffed: “I would like someone to help me get him out of there, before he comes out dead”.

One of the detainees, who was released on Saturday morning after serving an 18-month sentence, hugged his mother crying: “We lived in dangerous times in this prison (…) It rains bullets day and night”.

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