Venezuelan Judicial System Continues to Struggle

“Make beer or I will put you in prison,” said Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro.

According to Peace FM, the beverage company, Empresas Polar shut down its operation in April, and President Maduro is not happy about it.

Maduro has since ordered Empresas Polar to reopen its breweries and begin producing beer or else they will be thrown in jail for “sabotaging the country.”

Empresas Polar has four breweries, and they supply about 80% of all beer in Venezuela.

The threat of jailing these beer makers is not taken lightly, as Venezuela often has a questionable judicial system.

Panam Post reports that the Venezuelan prison issue is a major problem and has gained the attention of the United Nations.

United States jails, since 2000, have been at an average of 91% capacity. This could seem high to some, but in Venezuela, it’s not even close.

Jails in Venezuela were designed to hold 19,000 prisoners, but currently they hold more than 51,250 prisoners. That’s almost three times as much as they prepared for.

Of those 51,250 prisoners, only 36% of them have actually been convicted of any crime. The other 64% are awaiting trial, and some have been for a long time.

The struggling Venezuelan judicial system holds much of the fault for these horrid prison conditions. There is a major lack of prison facilities, which causes extreme overcrowding, the judicial process moves incredibly slow which results to more inmates being locked up without any convictions, and excessive prison sentences — like failure to brew beer — are leading to more and more prisoners being incarcerated for extended periods of time.

In a report issued by the Venezuelan Prison Observatory, it states that over a 15-year period from 1999 to 2014, more than 6,400 inmates died in prison. More than 500 prisoners were killed in 2013 alone.

Disputes among prison guards and other prisoners were the primary cause of death in the jails.