O Vermelhão - The Big Red, as this bull was called, stands in front of the entrance door. Except over the surrounding walls, from this point on there were no guards. The leaders of the criminal organization Comando Vermelho - C.V., Red Command, controlled all those incarcerated.
Caldeirão do Diabo - Devil's Caldron, Abandonada - Abandoned, and Maldita - Accursed, were all nicknames that identified this hellish place.
The penitentiary of Cândido Mendes, held hundreds of inmates with some of the darkest reputations; and stories of violent deaths, tortures and rapes. It's confinement was condemned by United Nations.
Contrasting with the innocence and tranquility of the island was a prison known as The Devil's Caldron; the place on earth where heaven ended and hell began. It held hundreds of inmates with some of the darkest reputations; and stories of violent deaths, tortures and rapes.
The dirty walls from the kitchen was scarred with bullet holes and marked with traces of the fires, rebellions, and innumerous fights that earned this place a historic reputation as one of the most notorious prisons in the world.
Because they barely had space inside their rooms, the inmates used the corridor as part of their cell.
In April of 1994, after eight months of my witnesses and 53 years of the prison's function, the entire inmate population was transferred off the island and the building demolished.
It was inside The Devil's Caldron, during Brazil's military dictatorship, that the government made a historic mistake. Imprisoning militant revolutionaries together with common criminals. A policy which instigated the evolution of the Comando Vermelho - C.V.; the largest criminal organization in Brazil.
Between the porno photos, on each wall, was one framed image of the saint Nossa Senhora Aparecida, The National Patroness of Brazil. On the table there is a picture of his wife set next to a hand made lamp.
Steam comes out from the big Caldron, spreading all through the kitchen. A sweaty prisoner uses a huge wooden spoon to stir the food. There are cockroaches all around. On the floor, I a rat ran from one side to the other. "Those rats are everywhere. At night in my room, I sometimes put food for them by my bed so they can leave me to sleep in peace", said one inmate.
The refectory had several concrete tables and benches, but most of them were broken during riots, which obligated the prisoners to eat standing.
All Photos © André Cypriano