The Echo Heard Round the World: Inmates Riot for Better Care at Guatemala Youth Detention Facility

A riot in a Guatemalan youth detention facility has resulted in the death of two guards and injuries of numerous people according to police.

In addition to the death of two guards, five other guards were captured and are being held hostage in the Etapa II center in the capital, Guatemala City.  

The riots, among other recent ones, are in response to poor treatment in the facilities.

The inmates are demanding to be allowed to receive food parcels and be given permission to cook their own meals, according to a BBC News article.

Attempts to end the riot have included the guards surrounding the prison and firing tear gas, but so far have failed to control the riot.

The National Civil Police says officers are still investigating what happened at the Central Correctional Stage II prison in San Jose Pinula, and the cause of death for the two guards still has not been determined.

Officials of the detention center have said that the riot was instigated by members of the 18th Street Gang, and according to BBC, members of rivalling dangerous street gangs make up large portions of the population in the detention center.

This incident comes only two weeks after another fire was set in protest of poor treatment that resulted in the deaths of 40 young girls at a state-run children’s and youth services shelter, also near Guatemala City.  

During the protest in the children’s and youth services shelter, children had set fires across the institution protesting conditions at the overcrowded shelter. Some of the victims had escaped earlier, fleeing poor food and mistreatment, but were caught and confined at the facility, according to the Washington Post.

This riot, in addition to the death of the 40 girls, resulted in the firing of an entire chain of command that oversaw this state-run department.

Prosecutor’s spokeswoman Julia Barrera confirmed the detentions of Social Welfare Secretary Carlos Rodas, Deputy Secretary Anahi Keller and shelter director Santos Torres on suspicion of homicide, mistreatment of minors and failure to fulfill duty.

According to the Washington Post, Guatemala’s human rights prosecutor said the dismissals should have come the same day as the fire. Jorge de Leon said his agency had asked a judge to review conditions at the shelter before the fire, but the request was denied.



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