September 20, 2008
One of the most worrisome trends in Latin America, aside from the spread of radical populism inspired by Hugo Chavez, is the rising frequency of deadly prison riots. This a partly a symptom of social stress, but mainly reflects the growing influence of criminal gangs involved in the drug trade. This phenomenon has been concentrated primarily in Central America, but may be spreading. Brazil has suffered such experiences in recent years, and it even happened Paraguay in June. In Mexico this week, about 20 people died in La Mesa prison in Tijuana, and a video of the shooting can be seen at BBC. It started last Sunday, when three prisoners died in a riot over demands for more food, and a second round led to a sharp increase in the death toll on Thursday.