BOGOTA, Colombia—Ecuador made international headlines on Sept. 28, when a brutal prison riot left at least 119 inmates dead and more than 80 injured. The details of the uprising at the Litoral penitentiary in Guayaquil, on the Ecuadorian coast, were particularly gruesome, with images emerging of dismembered bodies and reports of inmates armed with chainsaws.
A second riot at the same penitentiary on Nov. 11 left another 60 dead. Nearly 300 prisoners have died in gang-related violence in Ecuadorian prisons this year, making it the deadliest on record.
But Ecuador is far from the only country in the region to have experienced prison riots since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Violent uprisings have taken place across Latin America in the past year and a half, as the pandemic exacerbated long-standing problems in prison conditions throughout the region.