With no Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment today it’s all current news so let’s get to it… Caracas Chronicles had the headline “Mental Health Institutions Turned Into Pigpens”. Less visible than the rest of Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, the decline of all conditions in what’s left of public psychiatric wards has brought back horrendous practices of the past.

 Before we go any further I gotta’ say, in all my years living in Venezuela and following all things Venezuela-related, I thought I’d seen it all but this took me by surprise. When I saw the headline by Caracas Chronicles I thought they were speaking figuratively. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

 A clinical psychiatry student denounced conditions at the hospital where he was to receive training in Caracas. The directors of the hospital, considering the empty spaces provided by the lack of services, decided to let a homeless family move in and they were raising pigs for their personal consumption and the pigs routinely roamed throughout the hospital! The student remains anonymous for fear of reprisals but video evidence has been posted on Twitter.

 The Venezuela mental health system, like the Venezuela healthcare system in general, has been deteriorating for years. As far back as 2014 workers of the Psychiatric Hospital of Caracas at Lidice have protested patient’s conditions including lack of food, the practice of sealing windows with cement to prevent patients from escaping, and that corruption was rampant.

 In 2016 the New York Times did a piece on hunger at Pampero Mental Hospital in Lara state. In 2020 it was reported that 10 patients died of hunger at the same hospital. A year earlier the Washington Post reported that 14 patients at El Penon Hospital died due to lack of resources.

 In 2022 a team of newspapers did a survey of the 264 public centers listed by the Health Ministry. Only 11 answered the calls and only half of those had an operational psychological service.

 Overall, the psychiatric system is grossly lacking in relation to the demands of the population with 11 psychiatric centers and 78 outpatient centers having an average wait time of five months to receive attention.

 As bad as it is for those in need to wait five months, with patients in hospitals dying of hunger, it might be better for them if they aren’t admitted. I’m reminded of what my wife, the lovely and talented, Duglimar, said about the Venezuela healthcare system, “In Venezuela you go to the hospital to die”.

 Then we have Law 360 reporting that prosecutors are pushing to disqualify Jones Walker LLP from representing an asset manager charged with participating in a $1.2 billion scheme to embezzle money from PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company).

 They argue that the firm cannot be trusted to refrain from using confidential information gleaned during it’s previous representation of a witness.

 Ahh…just another day like we see in courts everywhere, all the time…shady Venezuela billion dollar business deals, shady Venezuela characters, and shady Venezuela lawyers.

 Then we have ABC News reporting that a Federal Judge in Houston has dismissed criminal charges against a Swiss banker accused of helping stash millions in bribes paid to senior Venezuela oil officials.

 Judge Kenneth Hoyt ruled that unjustified delays violated Paulo Murta’s constitutional right to a speedy trial within 70 days of being charged. Prosecutors asked Hoyt to stay his order for at least seven days while they file an appeal with the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

 It is the second time Hoyt has dismissed charges against Murta. He found in 2022 that prosecutors lacked jurisdiction to charge the foreign national but the ruling was reversed by the Fifth Circuit Court and sent back to Hoyt.

 Murta was accused of creating fake loans and setting up shell companies in Switzerland, Curacao, and Dubai to hide proceeds from the PDVSA bribery scheme.

 OK, so we already had shady business deals, shady characters, and shady lawyers involved in all these Venezuela court cases. Now I guess we can add shady judges to the list.

 And we have Aviation Source telling us that Air Europa announced it’s fourth weekly flight between Madrid and Caracas will be cancelled. Could this be a sign of things to come?

 We’ve seen this movie before. In everybody’s rush to “normalize relations” with the Maduro regime everybody seems to be forgetting one important fact. “Normal”, for Chavismo is the failure of everything they touch.

 Then we have Daily Mail telling us that Hanke released it’s Annual Misery Index of the world’s most miserable countries. It’s celebration time! Venezuela is no longer number one on the list!! They’re the second most miserable country out of 160 countries.

 And we have Splash.com telling us that the flag of Gabon is now the fastest-growing in the world of the “shadow fleet” hauling sanctioned Venezuelan, Iranian, and Russian oil.

 They are described as “high-risk vessels or have no identifiable ultimate group owner”. Sounds like the perfect business partner for the Chavistas.

 Then we have DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) reporting that a Federal jury has found Venezuelan national, Hector Cabellero, guilty of cocaine trafficking after he was apprehended by the US Coast Guard in international waters approximately 100 miles north of Colombia with 100 kilos of cocaine. Sentencing is scheduled for July.

 And we have Reuters reporting that the US Treasury Department renewed for six months a license authorizing a group of US oil service companies to preserve assets in Venezuela, keeping long-standing restrictions in place that prevent them from drilling, processing, or handling any Venezuelan oil.

 Some of the four companies have rigs and specialized equipment in Venezuela and this license will allow them to maintain those assets.

 Unlike the license issued to Chevron, these companies will not be authorized to engage in core activity, such as drilling, with PDVSA or it’s joint ventures.

 That will do it for the week. We’ll be back Tuesday after the Memorial Day weekend with our next installment of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole as well as more current news. Have a great weekend and take a moment to remember all those who died so we could have our freedom. See ya’ Tuesday!!!

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