Bolivian Prisoners Stage Hunger Strike

Nearly 4,000 inmates are on a hunger strike demanding better prison conditions or early release, and several dozen of them killed themselves to get the government’s attention.

The hunger strike began with a few hundred inmates last week and had grown to nearly 4,000 by Monday.

The hunger strike and suicides are being organized by convicted cocaine traffickers who want reduced sentences and the freedom to leave jail from time to time, Interior Minister Guido Nayer said. Inmates also are protesting harsh living conditions in often-overcrowded Bolivian jails.

But the government will not agree to the demands, Nayer said. Bolivia’s anti-narcotics law does not allow early release for convicted drug traffickers.

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