In 2010, 81 inmates died in a huge fire at San Miguel prison in Chile’s capital city Santiago. Inside, they were trapped behind bars like rats; outside, dozens of family members waiting for visiting hours to begin looked on helplessly as their loved ones shouted for help. The doors remained locked.
This reconstruction sheds light on the utter failure of the prison’s administration, which was housing twice as many prisoners as permitted. The evidence gathered for the trial—the security camera footage, photos, news clips, and audio recordings from inside and outside the jail—brings the events to life and reveals the full scale of the tragedy.
We hear fragments from telephone conversations between prison officials and emergency services in which shocking and harrowing discussions take place about whether or not to cut open the locks. Survivors and relatives of the dead tell of how corruption and mismanagement erased the rights of detainees.