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A new documentary shows what life is like in one of the most dangerous prisons in the world, where the inmates have taken over and the guards are too scared to go in.
General Penitentiary of Venezuela (PGV) in Guárico State is notorious for its brutality, with prisoners running drug stalls, armed troops terrified to enter, and LGBT inmates forced to live on the roof.
Family members of the inmates, their wives and children, go in and out, while they enjoy huge raves and parties.
NGO Venezuelan Prisons Observatory (OVP) also revealed recently that some prisoners were forced to kill a Rottweiler for food, as there was nothing else to eat.
La Causa, directed by Andrés Figueredo Thomson, took eight years to make and delves into the prison's murky underbelly, exposing the corruption that lies at its heart.
Speaking about the documentary, Figueredo Thomson said it was an incredibly overwhelming experience making it.
The 29-year-old told Reason: "Seeing inmates with weapons with grenades, the smell...literally excrement coming from the walls. Absolutely deplorable conditions.
"It was like a war zone. A post apocalyptic thing. To see children going in and out of the prison...being around guns.
"There was a guy selling crack with a baby in his arms."
The film gets its name from the word criminal kingpins inside the prison use for the tax on items such as drugs and guns that inmates have brought in.
And if they fail to pay, they are sent to the Church, a kind of prison within a prison.
Prisoners, the filmmaker says, are split into three groups: 'thugs', 'evangelicals' and 'renegades', and whichever one an inmate finds themselves in will determine what life is like for them.
He said: "Thugs are the people who are the free-ist inside the prison... they can walk wherever they want to. They can smoke weed and do drugs in the prison.
"The evangelicals, if they are walking about, have to have a bible in their hands and wear a tie and they are also in charge of cleaning the prison and are also in charge of cooking.
"The renegades - the ones who are worst off - are like the prisoners within prison."
But while this all paints a pretty grim picture of life in the penitentiary, Figueredo Thomson said inmates are so terrified of what will happen to them should they cross the line, that trouble rarely breaks out.
He said: "They have brought some sort of order out of the chaos."
Featured Image Credit: Capitolio
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