Over on Global Post, Girish Gupta sets the scene:
CARACAS, Venezuela — A cloud of marijuana bounces along with the bass line from a stack of six-foot high speakers in the corner of this large hall, its smell infused with that of urine.
Through the darkness, noise and the bustling crowd, it takes a moment before you notice that everyone here is carrying a machine gun, a rifle or pistol — not slung over their backs or tucked into their pants, but menacingly prone. Others toss grenades up and down or sharpen knives while enjoying the cocktail of drugs and music.
Outside the makeshift club, the Venezuelan sun bathes a small soccer field. Supporters are armed and one player even goes in for tackles with a pistol in hand. Corridors in the building are lined with gunmen, smiling and joking, seemingly unaware of their own terror.
Prison guards are nowhere to be seen here at La Planta, a typical Venezuelan jail that often sees gunfights and riots.
“If the guards mess with us, we shoot them,” says one prisoner, asking not to be identified. “I’ve seen a man have his head cut off and people play football with it.” Others who have spent time inside, as well as videos that appear online, corroborate his stories.
Do read the whole thing. There’s a video, too.
I’m convinced that historians will look back and point to prisons as the single gravest black mark on Chávez’s human rights record.