Deadly unrest in Latin America's prisons

Inmates pictured at a 2013 protest at Venezuela's Sabaneta jail, where 121 inmates were killed in a riot in 1994 (AFP Photo/JIMMY PIRELA) (JIMMY PIRELA/AFP/File)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - The deadly riot in a prison at Altamira in northern Brazil, which left more than 50 dead on Monday, is the latest unrest in Latin America's notoriously overcrowded jails.

Of the deadliest prison riots around the world in recent years, the vast majority have been in Latin America.

- Deadliest -

Over the past three decades, there have been several massive riots, sometimes involving fires, that left at least 100 people dead.

In 2005 a fire erupted at an overcrowded prison in Dominican Republic's eastern city of Higuey after a dawn riot, leaving at least 135 people dead.

In 1994, 121 inmates were killed after prisoners set fire to three prison blocks during a riot at Sabaneta prison in Venezuela's northern city of Maracaibo.

In 1992 in Brazil, 111 prisoners were killed when security forces put down a mutiny at the enormous Carandiru jail outside Sao Paulo.

In the worst incident outside of Latin America, security forces shot and killed around 100 inmates in Algeria in 1995 in response to an escape bid by rioting Muslim fundamentalist prisoners at a high-security Algiers jail.

- In Brazil -

Deadly riots are frequent in Brazil's overcrowded prisons.

With nearly 727,000 prisoners registered in 2016, Brazil has the world's third largest prison population.

The population is roughly double the capacity of the nation's jails.

In late May 2019, at least 55 prisoners were killed in several jails over two days in the southern state of Amazonas.

On April 11, 2018, at least 21 people died in an attempted breakout from a prison near the northern city of Belem.

In early 2017, deadly riots left around 100 prisoners dead in the space of a month -- most brutally killed, many decapitated, sometimes even disemboweled.

- The most recent -

Other Latin American countries have seen violent prison mutinies over the past years.

On May 25, at least 29 prisoners were killed in clashes at a jail in the town of Acarigua, western Venezuela.

March 28, 2018 saw one of the worst prison riots in Venezuela, with 68 people dying in a blaze in a police station jail in the northern city of Valencia.

In 2017, two prison riots in Mexico left 16 dead in the central town of Cadereyta and 28 in the southern city of Acapulco.

In August 2017, 37 were killed in a jailhouse in the southern Venezuelan state of Amazonas.