Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen, winner of the 2020 award

The jury of this eighth edition has awarded Venezuelian photojournalist Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen for her work “Dias Eternos” on women in Venezuelian prisons

The story

Dias Eternos
The current economic misery in Venezuela, mixed with violence and crime rooted in society, is accentuated inside the preventive detention centers. The procedural delays are separating thousands of women from their families and children for months or even years.
The prison system goes beyond the threshold of what is considered not acceptable in societies where democracy works. Cases of deaths due to malnutrition, infectious diseases and riots. The facilities are severely overcrowded. There are extreme precariousness of sanitary facilities, supplies are provided by family members. There is a lack of medical assistance. In this context of deprivation, detainees are in a very vulnerable situation. They are women of modest origins. Their biographies have been marked by family abandonment, sexual abuse or violent treatment. They are accused of drug smuggling, theft, illicit carrying of arms, kidnapping, association to commit a crime, corruption of minors, infanticide, terrorism and looting of private property. The causes for imprisonment also extends to the political sphere. The “law against hate”, which passed in January 2018, forbids any protest against the government and has put numerous women behind bars.
Having a second chance in their lives is a recurring idea that almost everyone has in mind. How do prisoners – some of them mothers – continue their lives after release and reunite with their families? And what do their conditions tell us about the state of the current Venezuelan crisis? Facing this dreadful reality of the Justice system, a mandatory task of public debate and political action – not only in Venezuela, but everywhere in the world – is to contribute to the urgency of establishing penitentiary institutions that do not violate the Human Rights of these women.

Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela
Dias Eternos, Women in prison in Venezuela


A transgender woman detainee shows her wounds and scars through the bars of her cell. She is being held prisoner like a man, which means that she has to wait for her preliminary trial with male prisoners who often abuse her.


A group of female detainees warm up before exercising under the watch of a custodian inside a closed prison. Only women who have already gone to trial are admitted to this type of prison, where they have food, water, medical attention, and don't deal with overcrowding. Women detained here have the chance to take classes, participate in sports, and cook, however they are not allowed to make or receive phone calls and they only get one visitation day per month.


Jakelin Rivero, 21, charged with robbery, is eight month pregnant. She waits to have a bath with buckets of water at an improvised outdoor toilet made from a cardboard by the police. About a hundred detainees use the same toilet bowl and shower in the same place.

A group of female detainees lay down in their prison cell. This cell was the former investigation office of Poli-Valencia. They transformed it into a prison cell bacuse the female detainees were mixed with the male detainees.

“Eternal days” is the description that one of the already judged female prisoners uses to refer to the time of serving her sentence inside this center instead of a state prison. Most of these women have children outside the prison that do not visit them.

Daniela (center, with a pink shirt) is serving a 4-year sentence for robbery while her daughter has leukemia.

POLI-PLAZA, GUARENAS - December 2018.

Carolina, 28, shows her long hair in the Poli-Plaza detention center in Guarenas, Venezuela. She has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for accomplice to theft. She has been waiting to be transferred to a state prision for seven years and nine months.


A woman goes urinates in a bucket inside a prison cell surrounded by other detainees.

Because of the overcrowding, these women live under unhygienic conditions.

A woman showers in the only pipe they have to clean themselves.
Other female detainees wait for their turn to have a shower.

This is the only source of water these women have.


Maria (on the left) kisses her daughter on visitation hours. She is 35 years old and is charged with robbery.

EL VALLE, CARACAS. - March 2018.

There are 96 women currently imprisoned in El Valle Detention Center. Most of them have not yet faced trial and cannot afford to pay the $1,000 to the police to go to a less overpopulated center of detention.

Hainni, 17, is accused of homicide. She also goes by the name of “38”, which is the caliber of the gun that is tattooed on her leg.


A group of prisoners start a game of domino in common outdoor areas. The women in pink are already sentenced while the ones in green are being processed.

Male and female detainees assist an evangelist event inside the precinct. The preacher charismatically sermonizes about forgiveness and reflection. It was followed by a religious theater play and a shared meal.


Yarimar Tovar, 25 years old, smokes a cigarette on her bed, accused of robbery. She has been detained for 5 days and have not met her lawyer.
She is the mother of three children: a 7 year old, a 5 year old and a 2 and half years old. Yarimar shares her prison cell with
other 6 women including one teenager.

CICPC EL HATILLO, CARACAS. - February 2017. Betania hugs her daughter on visitation days.
She received humanitarian help, which allows her to breastfeed her child once a day. The Venezuelan constitution
permits a child of a female prisoner to stay with her until he/she is three years old, but these centers do not count as such
facility. Betania suffers from depression and anemia; the father of the child is serving a long sentence in the Tocorón prison.
In February 2017 she was released and in January 2018 she had left the country to find better opportunities in Colombia.
Her daughter stayed in Venezuela with the paternal grandmother.

LA YAGUARA CENTER OF DETENTION . - March 2018. Twenty-two female detainees, including two minors,
wait for months or even years for their preliminary trial. They share a 9x12inch cell and most of them sleep on mattresses
on the floor. Some of them have not met their lawyer.

POLI-NAGUANAGUA, CARABOBO. - March 2018. Make-up, hair irons or extensions are some of the benefits
these women receive from the police department. Also cellphones that they continuously use as distraction..

A woman inside a “closed” prison in Maracaibo - a border city between Venezuela and Colombia - helps arrange the net to play volleyball. Their schedules include playing sports along with receiving classes, motivational and disciplinary workshops and arts and crafts. The purpose of these centers is to reform women and avoid relapse. They get redemptions if they behave properly to get their sentence reduced.

POLI-ZAMORA, GUATIRE. - December 2018. Children of the imprinoated population in this detention center
wait to enter to the backyard, where an evangelist theater piece was going to take place.

LA YAGUARA CENTER OF DETENTION, CARACAS - March 2018. Women inside a preventive detention center spend
their days in a deranged inactivity. They adapte their space of their “dungeon” to make it look more like a home.
They write letters or make drawings to their children, read the Bible, share cigarettes or iron their hair.

LA YAGUARA CENTER OF DETENTION. - March 2018. Beauty has always been important in Venezuelan culture.
Inside the centers of preventive detention, women take care of their looks even if they do not have mirrors or visitors.


Ana Maria Arévalo Gosen (Caracas, Venezuela. 1988) is a fighter for women’s rights and her weapon is visual storytelling. Mixing rigorous research with intimate stories, she wants to make a positive impact through her projects.
Because of the crisis in Venezuela Ana moved to Toulouse in 2009. She studied Political science (IEP) and photography (ETPA). She did an internship at the AFP, Paris where he acquired knowledge about press photography.
In 2014 Ana moved to Hamburg and works as a freelance photographer. She worked as an editorial photographer and her work was published in media such as Szene Magazin and Der Spiegel.
In 2016-2017 she produced her most challenging work. “The meaning of life” is the intimate story of her husband’s fight against testicular cancer. Today they use it to raise awareness about this disease. Each year the exhibition and raises funds for male cancer research (2017 in Madrid and 2018 in Bilbao).
Her roots called her in 2017, when she returned to Venezuela, the place of her source of inspiration. Her first long-term “Dias eternos”, on the conditions of women in preventive detention centers and prisons in the country. This work was awarded the Women Photograph (2018) and Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Travel Grant (2018). It won the first place of the POY Latam in the category “the strength of women” and PH Museum women grant honorable mention (2019). It was published in the New York Times, LFI, 6Mois, El País, Wordt Vervold, among others. Exhibited at the Manifesto Festival in Toulouse. In April 2018, she was invited to participate in a conference in Defense of Human Rights (FIU, Miami). She wants to carry on this work in the rest of Latin America.
Today she lives in Bilbao spending long periods in Venezuela.