Briefly: Mexican police replace airport security after shootout
CARACAS — More than 20 people were killed in a prison riot as two groups of inmates waged a gun battle inside the penitentiary, Venezuelan officials said Monday.
The violence erupted Sunday at Yare I prison south of Caracas, and one of those slain was a relative of an inmate, said Iris Varela, the government’s prisons minister.
It was the latest in a series of bloody clashes that have erupted inside Venezuela’s overcrowded prisons and become a major problem for President Hugo Chavez’s government.
Ms. Varela told state television that more than 20 people were killed but did not give a precise death toll or explain how the riot broke out. She said that, as of Monday morning, the situation at the prison was under control.
Ms. Varela said two groups of armed inmates had been fighting and that those behind the killings “are going to have to answer for this.” She didn’t provide details about how the inmate’s relative died.
Carlos Nieto, an activist who monitors human rights in Venezuelan prisons, said an inmate’s relative who was inside the prison told him the shootout began during family visiting hours. Nieto said the gun battle lasted about four hours and involved groups fighting for control.
Mr. Nieto said the riot shows that the “most serious prison problem, the weapons possessed by inmates, hasn’t been solved.” He noted that less than a month ago, another bloody riot erupted at another prison in Merida state.
Puerto Ricans reject constitutional amendments
SAN JUAN — Voters have rejected constitutional amendments that would have reduced the size of the U.S. territory’s legislature and given judges the right to deny bail in certain murder cases.
With 99 percent of polling places reporting Sunday, officials said 54 percent of the 805,337 votes counted rejected the legislative measure and 46 percent favored it.
Fifty-five percent opposed the bail measure and 45 percent supported it.
The referendum’s results mean Puerto Rico remains the only place in the Western Hemisphere where everyone is entitled to bail regardless of the alleged crime.
“It is a time to celebrate because the people have saved our constitution and our rights,” said Arturo Hernandez, gubernatorial candidate for the Sovereign Union Movement, one of the island’s minority parties.
Gov. Luis Fortuno and other members of his pro-statehood party lamented the bail change wasn’t approved.