Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro committed to a thorough overhaul of the country’s judicial and prison system in order to reduce overcrowding and the delayed administration of justice.
We have come to a conclusion: in Venezuela, at this stage of the construction of the new state, a deep and accelerated revolution is needed to shake up and transform the entire national justice system.
The need for judicial reform is a longstanding issue in Venezuela, with slow and bureaucratic processing leading to a very slow administration of justice and a subsequent overcrowding seen in jails and prisons.
President Maduro authorized the creation of a commission that would be required to submit its recommendations in short order and was empowered to make proposals for “structural” reforms.
The commission will be headed by lawmakers Diosdado Cabello and Cilia Flores, along with Justice Lourdes Suárez Anderson.
The commission was tasked with specifically addressing the overcrowding problem within 60 days. Cabello stated that the commission had set out to visit all detention facilities within 30 days and clear out the country’s jails 30 days after that.
Relatives of incarcerated people and NGO’s have denounced the insufficiently nutritious food provided to inmates, exposure to disease, as well as the generally poor conditions of jails.
During the early years of President Chávez’s leadership, there was an effort to reduce incarceration and a focus on human rights, with an overhaul of the state security apparatus and initiatives such as the National Experimental Security University (UNES).
However, as early as 2010 there was a return to the types of repressive strategies of the neo-liberal 1990’s governments.
As is common in prisons throughout the region, the state does not exercise control over all facilities, with organized crime inside the prisons often controlling access to basic services.
However, human rights organizations nonetheless welcomed the opportunity to participate in the effort to implement changes to Venezuela’s judicial and penal system.
From a drive-in mall to the headquarters of the secret police, El Helicoide, or the Helix, is a building that has had more lives than a cat. Located in the south-central Caracas, Venezuela, the incredible building perches on a hill surrounded now amongst slums.
Its tightly coiled ramp system is intact and an unmistakable dome, designed by Buckminster Fuller sits like a crown on the building’s peak.
Cited as the world’s first drive-in mall, El Helicoide was supposed to be the crowning architectural gesture of Venezuela’s dictator General Marcos Pérez Jiménez’s plans to radically modernize the country, instead, it has become a symbol of suffering and fear.
Venezuela Analysis / ABC Flash Point News 2021.