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Venezuela's Chavez to boost prison construction

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday said he is instructing officials to boost prison construction after a 27-day uprising by inmates highlighted problems of overcrowding and violence

AP , Friday 15 Jul 2011
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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday said he is instructing officials to boost prison construction after a 27-day uprising by inmates highlighted problems of overcrowding and violence.

Chavez likened the problems in Venezuela's prisons to cancer, saying dealing with them requires "deep treatment."

While Chavez was recovering from a cancer operation last month in Cuba, hundreds of inmates began rioting at two adjacent prisons near Venezuela's capital. The nearly monthlong crisis ended on Wednesday when prisoners emerged from the Rodeo II prison after negotiations with authorities. Officials have said that several inmates also escaped, including four who were killed by troops.

"New facilities must be built," Chavez said in an interview with state television, adding that he has also decided to create a new Cabinet ministry to oversee prison issues.

"Those old jails must be transformed," Chavez said. "Thanks to God that this case was resolved."

He condemned corruption among prison guards and administrators that has allowed a flourishing trade in guns and drugs in the prisons. "It's like a cancer. We must fight against that," Chavez said.

Chavez's Twitter account on Friday announced that Peruvian President-elect Ollanta Humala had just arrived for a visit. Chavez called him a brother, saying "Let's give him the most patriotic of welcomes!"

Humala, a populist leftist and, like Chavez, a former military man, had delayed his visit because of the Venezuelan leader's health issues.

Chavez told state television that he has been waking up at sunrise and reading German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He said he also has taken up painting again and has been creating a landscape from one of the windows of the presidential palace.

"I know there are people who are happy because they believe I'm dying, that I'm going to die soon," Chavez said, "but those evil wishes are part of that hatred ... That is erased like a tsunami of love by the blessings and prayers of a nation, of millions."

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