Miami Desk, Mar 22 (efe-epa).- At least 23 inmates died and 83 were wounded or injured at Bogota’s Modelo prison and other penal facilities on the weekend during riots staged by prisoners ostensibly to protest overcrowding and the lack of measures to prevent infection by the coronavirus, Colombian Justice Minister Margarita Cabello Blanco reported.
Cabello said in Bogota that of the 83 prisoners injured, 32 had been hospitalized, adding that a “massive and criminal escape attempt” had been staged at the Modelo prison and a total of seven Inpec prison officials and guards had been injured, two of whom are in serious condition.
The Modelo riot was the largest and most serious, but similar incidents also occurred at Bogota’s La Picota and Buen Pastor prisons, the latter a women’s facility; as well as the Combita maximum security prison in Boyaca province; the Picaleña prison in Ibague, capital of Tolima province; at Jamundi in Valle del Cauca province and at the Pedregal and Bellavista prisons in Antioquia, among others.
The minister said that “there were no escapes” during the riots, emphasizing that “There was a criminal escape plan here that was foiled.”
She also denied that there was any health problem at any of the facilities, saying that “Today, there is not a single infection, not an inmate, not a … staffer or a guard who has the coronavirus or who should be isolated due to the coronavirus.”
Inpec director Brig. Gen. Norberto Mujica, said that all the riots had been brought under control and that the names of the dead would be released as soon as they are identified.
So far, 231 people have been infected with the coronavirus in Colombia, two have died and three have recovered, the Health Ministry said Sunday.
In Peru, an Ipsos survey published in the Lima daily El Comercio said that 95 percent of Peruvians support the general and obligatory quarantine declared by the government seven days ago to attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
So far, 318 people are known to have been infected with the virus and five have died.
Besides the forced isolation of the entire population, the Peruvian government has also imposed an overnight curfew from 8 pm until 5 am that has the backing of 96 percent of the public.
Peru has been one of the countries to respond most quickly and aggressively to the presence of the virus, with the first case being detected there on March 6 and a general and obligatory quarantine being declared on March 15, when there were already 71 known cases.
In Brazil, Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta on Sunday called for the government to postpone the municipal elections scheduled for Oct. 4 to prevent campaign rallies and other events from helping spread the coronavirus.
He said that the candidates probably will continue to hold campaign events in the coming months and such activities could facilitate the spread of the virus, thus causing a health “tragedy.”
Thus, he urged the National Congress to discuss the matter, postpone the elections and provisionally extend the mandates of current mayors and councilors around the country beyond January 2021, when those terms had been scheduled to expire.
Brazilians are slated to go to the polls to elect 5,564 mayors and about 56,810 municipal councilors.
As of Sunday, 1,546 people in Brazil were known to have been infected with the coronavirus and 25 of them had died.
On Sunday, the Quito City Hall activated a seven-point preventive control plan to test incoming and outgoing vehicles – both passenger and cargo – at access points to the Ecuadorian capital to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected about 800 people and killed 14.