There was yet another deadly prison uprising in Mexico. The latest grim manifestation of the unrelenting prison crisis in Latin America comes from the northern Mexican state of Nuevo León. Authorities confirmed last week that the riot resulted in the deaths of 16 inmates and wounded an additional 25. The uprising took place at the Penal de Cadereyta facility.
Violence Behind Bars
In Mexico, and elsewhere, prison riots and violence among inmates are not uncommon occurrences. Prison riots in Mexico often result from the struggles between rival narco-gangs.
But this particular one started as an inmate protest over abysmal conditions at the overcrowded state lock-up.
During the riot, prisoners took guards as hostages to leverage basic demands such as adequate food and water. One prisoner died while fighting with the guards before the state police entered the fray. The inmates erected barricades of mattresses and set them on fire. This, in turn, prompted the police to respond with lethal force .
This prison uprising in Mexico should not have come as a surprise to anyone.
There were enough warning signs that trouble was brewing at Cadereyta. A similar protest at the facility on March 27 resulted in four killed and about 20 wounded. That uprising was prompted by the authorities’ move to have inmates submit to X-ray searches in an attempt to crack down on contraband entering the facility. And back in October 2011, a clash at the prison left seven dead and 12 wounded.
This level of violence is not unheard of in Cadareyta.
This town was also the scene of one of the worst massacres in Mexico’s ultra-violent cartel wars back in 2012. In May of that year, the cartel decapitated and mutilated 49 people and left their remains in plastic bags on the side of the highway throughout town. To this day, it remains unclear who carried out the massacre. The suspects are either the Zetas or the Gulf Cartel, the rival outfits fighting for control of Nuevo León.
Final Hit: Yet Another Deadly Prison Uprising In Mexico
After this latest prison uprising in Mexico, the local Consejo Cívico (or Civil Council in English), a citizens’ group, demanded that the government be held accountable. They protested the use of force as premature and charged that authorities did not make sufficient efforts to open a constructive dialogue with the rebelling inmates. The statement noted that in the two years since Gov. Jaime “El Bronco” Rodríguez Calderón took office in Nuevo León, the state’s prisons have seen 73 inmates killed in five separate violent incidents. This is compared to a total of 67 over the six years of the previous administration.
Ironically, Rodríguez Calderón was elected as a gadfly and outsider. He ran as an indpendent, a rare thing in Mexico. During his campaign, he said that he would put an end to the chronic narco-violence in Nuevo León. So much for false promises. Here in the United States, we can certainly empathize.