Life in La Planta

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.

10 thoughts on “Life in La Planta

  1. May I be so bold?

    Perhaps it is safer to walk around everybody with their guns out than not knowing who’s going to break the guards’ formation to shank you.

  2. Chavez incarcerates political opponents at will. Maybe he wants to strike fear in his opponents.

    • It’s not even that – most political prisoners end up under house arrest, or in Secret Police (SEBIN) cells at the Helicoide, away from all this madness.

  3. Reminds me of a gun check at a Texas bar. When you enter, the bouncer asks if you have a gun. If you say no, the bouncer gives you a gun.

    Then there is the village in Afghanistan where guns are traded and repaired. Everyone has multiple guns. The place has no crime. At least no reported crime.

  4. With the caveat that Chávez inherited this mess, and only made it worse…

    • I think this is a perfect representation of where Chavismo has taken us.

      Pre 2008: Chuzos (Scary things. Most people were horrified Chuzos were a reality in our prisons, what kind of society are we that we allow our prisioners to keep knifes in prison???)

      2012: AK47s, FALs, Granades, Glocks with special loaders…

      I’m pretty sure you can make the same analogy with everything the government is involved in.

  5. So let’s see, when an article on a website talks about people in a prison that have guns, etc, and are running the prison we might expect that the video attached to the article would actually provide proof of this. And so when we actually watch the video we get two guys telling stories that they do not support with a single shred of evidence and some still photos of prisons with even more completely unproven claims to go along with it. Yep, that article should certainly be relied on to provide a truthful view of what is going on in Venezuela. Nothing that even slightly calls the credibility of the person posting that article into question is there?

    • Wait are you question the veracity of the fact that prisioners in Venezuela are armed to the teeth?

    • Do you live next to Rapunzel? In which kingdom of fantastical wonders Venezuelan prisoners aren’t left to their own devices in overcrowded and overarmed prisons?

      Alcahuete.

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