(CNN) – Inmates have revolted and taken control of a notorious prison in Venezuela, as the volatile country braces for presidential elections decried as illegitimate by regional leaders.
Men identifying themselves as prisoners posted videos online saying they had taken over a detention center in the Helicoide (“the Helix”), the headquarters of intelligence agency Sebin in the capital, Caracas, because of torture and human rights violations.
Footage posted on social media purported to show prisoners walking freely inside the facility, breaking cell locks and demanding their immediate release.
The US embassy in Venezuela expressed concern over the incident, after an American political prisoner Joshua Holt, a former Mormon missionary from Utah, posted a video on social media saying he feared for his life.
Venezuelan authorities later said they had “normalized” the situation at the prison, but inmates refuted the claim.
Venezuelans will head to the polls Sunday to elect a new president as the country is roiled by an economic and social crisis, with millions suffering food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation and growing insecurity.