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Bolivian prison inmates spark riot after a prisoner died of the coronavirus

Prisoners at an overcrowded jail in Bolivia started a riot and set objects on fire while chanting ‘freedom’ after an inmate died from the coronavirus.

Authorities have reported more than 60 deaths due to the coronavirus in Bolivia’s prison system, which is overcrowded at more than 240 per cent capacity.  

Monday’s massive protest shook four most populated prisons in the Andean nation’s Cochabamba region.

Dozens of inmates at the San Sebastián detention facility were demanding improved access to medical care.

‘We were surprised today with a protest, with a riot carried out by the inmates,’ said San Sebastián prison warden, Simón Cuadros, according to AFP.

Local media showed images of inmates climbing to the roofs of the prisons, calling for medicine and access to doctors as families camped out side in support of their relatives.

‘We urge the entry of medical teams to do an evaluation inside the prison facilities to prevent more deaths,’ said Cochabamba ombudsman Nelson Cox.

Eight inmates in Cochabamba have reportedly died of COVID-19, according to Cox. 

Concerns have risen over the virus spreading throughout the prison population.

‘There are no doctors, there are no medicines. They are dying inside,’ said Susana, a relative of a prisoner in the San Sebastián prison who declined to give her last name. ‘It is not possible to let them die. We are human beings.’ 

The San Sebastián prison was built to hold 200 inmates but currently has some 650 detainees. 

There have been several other inmate deaths in recent months that were not confirmed as caused by the coronavirus due to a lack of testing. 

Data from John Hopkins University that was published Monday showed Latin America is the most infected region in the world 4,381,402 confirmed coronavirus cases. 

The region placed four countries among the top 10 nations with COVID-19 cases.

Bolivia ranks eighth in Latin America with 71,181 coronavirus cases. The virus has killed 2,647 people in the country.

Cochabamba is the third region most affected by the pandemic in Bolivia with 7,544 infections and 583 deaths. 

The eastern city of Santa Cruz has been severely impacted with 17,873 confirmed cases and 412 deaths. La Paz, the Bolivian capital, has reported with 2,882 cases and 76 deaths.

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