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As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases increased around the world in March, Venezuelan prostitutes from London and Madrid were flown in just before air travel restrictions were enforced. The women joined Venezuela’s “Bolichicos:” the wealthy and privileged children of the socialist revolution for a drug and sex fueled party on the white sandy beaches of Los Roques archipelago, a cluster of islands in Venezuela. As the party ramped up, so did the spread of COVID-19 between the partygoers.
The party was organized by several government-connected businessmen, according to 2 people who had attended other gatherings. A video from the party taken March 11 shows women in bikinis dancing at a beachfront home rented from an exiled Venezuelan banker. Another attendee was Jesús Amoroso, the son of the top anti-corruption official working for the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. Maduro had recently been charged with Narco-Terrorism, Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other criminal charges by the United States Department of Justice. Along with 14 other former officials, Maduro has been accused of flooding America with cocaine and attempting to undermine the health of Americans with drugs.
Los Roques provides a retreat for the wealthy, accessible by private plane while the option of partying in New York, Miami, or Madrid are temporarily off the table. The second day of the party, a group took several boats to a popular spot called “Corrupt Cay.” Photos and videos show Puerto Rican reggaeton artists, Zion and Justin Quiles on a powerboat with Amoroso, however their spokesperson stated that the artists were there to shoot a music video and did not attend the party. The artists tested negative for COVID-19, but the same cannot be said for the rest of the people on the islands. On March 20, Maduro said on TV, “There was a party, on an island, and practically everyone at the party is testing positive.” One partygoer stated that him and his girlfriend had to be evacuated with high fevers, and that 6 people tested positive for the virus. In a leaked audio message, the partygoer said, “Certainly one of the girls had the virus and nobody knew.”
As word about the party spread, Maduro attempted to downplay it by saying, “Who is going to criticize a party? They didn’t know they were sick.” However, the event has received much criticism, especially from Venezuelan citizens who have been locked down at home. Food and medicine shortages have forced 5 million to flee, as their country cannot provide adequate medical care should they become infected. The mass emigration of Venezuelan doctors has also created a staff shortage in hospitals. Miguel Rengifo, a motorcycle-taxi driver from the Caracas slum of Petare said about the party, “We’re struggling to eat, but they’re running free, drinking, chasing girls without a second thought about the rest of us. Here, we are fighting just to get by.”
In mid-March, Maduro declared a state of national alarm and imposed flight restrictions. Brazil and Colombia have closed their borders with Venezuela. Venezuelan authorities have confirmed 175 COVID-19 cases and stated that 9 have died in the first month. On April 11, Maduro extended the state of alarm and quarantine for another 30 days. Understandably, many are upset at the young partygoers for potentially spreading COVID-19 throughout Venezuela’s people. While some felt embarrassed, others defended their actions. Amoroso posted a photo on Instagram of himself with middle fingers raised in front of a luxury SUV, saying “Suck it gossipers.”
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Two people familiar with the Los Roques parties stated that the parties usually feature psychedelic 2C-B drugs. 2C-B’s effects have been described as a mix between LSD and MDMA, creating a stimulating effect, euphoria, and hallucinations. The Venezuelan partygoers refer to 2C-B as pink cocaine, for its high price and pink, powdery substance. 2C-B can be snorted but is usually swallowed as a capsule or tablet. There is said to be intense pain when snorting 2C-B. That is not the only danger; snorting drugs can transmit the spread of COVID-19, as soft tissue abrasions containing the virus can be passed from one person to another if they inhale drugs off the same surface or tool. COVID-19 can also be passed through sex, as well as close contact and kissing.
Hayley Hudson is the Director of Content at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Central Florida and has over 7 years of professional writing experience.