GUATEMALA CITY – A riot at a youth correctional facility in the Guatemalan capital was brought under control late Monday after a pitched battle between security forces and inmates.
A number of injured inmates were taken to hospitals.
The trouble began after authorities found two 18-year-old inmates dead – apparently murdered – inside the Centro Los Gaviotas prison in Guatemala City.
Some prisoners escaped and raided a nearby bodega for beer and began hurling poles, chunks of metal, and other objects at police, who responded with tear gas.
The rioters asked officials to address their complaints about conditions inside the facility, which was built to hold 250 inmates but at last count had 460, many of them adults.
Inmates complain that prison personnel beat them, serve them spoiled food, and keep them locked up most of the time.
The dormitories at Centro Los Gaviotas could be more aptly described as dungeons or punishment cells, according to a recent report from the national ombud’s office, which also noted that the prison has only eight toilets.
Besides demanding better living conditions, inmates are asking to be allowed to wear street clothes and to be permitted conjugal visits.
The list of inmate grievances and demands was little changed from the one put forward in mid-April during a previous incident at Los Gaviotas.
Five guards were hurt on that occasion.
In early March, 41 girls and young women died in a fire at a government-run shelter in the capital, while four guards were killed March 19 during an uprising at the Etapa II juvenile detention center in Guatemala City.