Brazil: inmates protest suspension of visits

A riot broke out Saturday at a prison in the city of Manaus in Brazil’s Amazon state, as inmates protested the suspension of all visits to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The inmates at the Puraquequara facility held prison guards hostage for more than five hours before authorities brought the situation under control and freed the guards, the state’s public security secretary said in a statement.

While inmates took to the roof of the facility, people outside the penitentiary were holding signs in Portuguese reading “Peace, Peace. They just want to be treated with respect” and “They’re already paying for their offenses.”

A group of family members, some wearing masks, held a sign saying “Social reintegration? In these conditions it’s not possible.”

Relatives said visits at the Puraquequara prison were suspended in mid-March. Rumors that the coronavirus had begun to spread there have been circulating on social media for weeks.

Brazil has reported at least 92,000 cases of COVID-19 infections as of Saturday. About 6,500 people have succumbed to the virus.