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The Coliseum

In Inside Venezuela on agosto 4, 2010 at 11:36 am

Uribana Jail

When you are a prisoner in a venezuelan jail, one of the things that delays the most your presentation to court is the absence of a bus. So, as incredible as it sounds, You can only imagine how happy were the 45 prisoners scheduled to go to court last monday when they saw the bus getting to the “Uribana” prison that morning, right on time.

“You are not getting on that bus” said the authorities of the jail to the prisoners, “you have to come back: ‘the pope’ has ordered a ‘coliseum’”

“The pope” is the main leader of the prisoners in “Uribana”. He is the chief, the “pran”, and goverment authorities and prisoners obey him with no doubt.

“The coliseum” is a rare new practice were “the pope” gathers everybody around a field, and appoint two prisoners to fight with knives. There are rules, of course: no mortal wounds, and the cuts should only be on arms and legs. The winner, selects the next contestant. Every won battle, gives name and respect to the winner prisoner. Authorities do not intercede on the fights, unless they sense it could get “out of control” (talking about euphemism…) and, that monday morning, it did.

Violence has become an endemic disease in Venezuela, it is everywhere and it is fed, mainly, with an incredible absence of justice that, among other things, let 93% of the homicides go unpunished. In Venezuela, those behind the bars are not the guilty ones, but those resourceless.

That monday morning, with a little delay, the bus that arrived right on time departed from “Uribana”, not for court, but for the local hospital, with 33 injured.

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  1. [...] Uribana, in the western Venezuelan state of Lara. And it left 128 inmates injured and two dead. “Coliseos” (coliseums), as inmates call these organized knife fights, have become a mainstay of prison life [...]

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