Testimony 2: Abuse of Power - A Former Patient of Alberto Varela

Note: This testimonial was written by A.M. a woman who was a "patient" of Alberto Jose Varela (aka Antonio Maino) for nearly on...

Note: This testimonial was written by A.M. a woman who was a "patient" of Alberto Jose Varela (aka Antonio Maino) for nearly one year.  Due to their vulnerable condition people who seek healing are often easy to manipulate. It is therefore essential that therapists maintain impeccable ethical standards in their work. Unfortunately for A.M. she crossed paths with Varela and his collaborator, the psychologist Oscar Gomez. Their behavior was not only incompatible with the respectful use of ayahuasca, it shows no professional ethics, or respect for the integrity and dignity of other people.

We encourage others to anonymously share their experiences with this group that goes by the name ‘Ayahuasca International’ or ‘Inner Mastery’ by writing to conoci.a.varela@hushmail.com

"My name is A.M. It is not easy for me to write this letter, it requires courage and a lot of strength. But I will do it, to bring closure to this cycle. I hope what I write will open doors for others and point all of us towards the truth, putting everyone in their place.

To make a business out of other people's suffering is a great irresponsibility that may also have a detrimental effect on those suffering. When this is accomplished by manipulating a sacred plant, the impact can be even greater.

Alberto José Varela uses ayahuasca to abuse and to take advantage of the human suffering and sooner or later, this misguided energy, will return to put everything back in its right place.

Perhaps some people, who have lived through a similar experience with Alberto, have been able to see it as a lesson on their spiritual path but this human experience, the one of which I now speak of - every action has a reaction, and now it is time for the truth to come out.


In 2012 I was not feeling well and during an search for the internal reasons behind my suffering and discomfort I was put in touch with a therapist whose name I cannot mention. After attempting to treat me this therapist gave me the phone number of Varela, saying that he was the best in Spain in administrating a therapeutic plant called Ayahuasca and that this is exactly what I need right now.

Only now I can see with clarity that even this pseudo-therapist just wanted to get rid of me quickly, but not before making his own profit out of my condition - just another super therapist on the spiritual market.

My internal estate of anguish and great discomfort was increasing and so I decided open myself up, to make an effort and to trust. I felt I had no choice at the time. I needed to see some light where there was only darkness.  I decided to listen to the advice of that therapist and so I contacted Varela.

I got in touch with Varela and after he explained that he does many different kinds of ayahuasca sessions (with groups of people as well as individual sessions) he gave me an appointment for a specific day and told me he will try to get more people for the session.

On the day of the appointment, no other people arrive. Varela proceeded to give the Ayahuasca to me. I say give because that's what he did, he gave it to me as if he was a waiter (with all due respect to this profession) - as if he was serving me a beer, following no therapeutic norms, without preparing, advising or warning me of any possible aftermaths and without even asking me whether I was taking any medication. He just gave me the ayahuasca.

The session took place in a restaurant he owns in Madrid, called ‘Yatiri’, which according to him was under renovation since the building did not meet certain legal requirements and thus had to close. I know now that this man is a liar, who gives false names when opening different businesses in order to not to have any legal responsibilities for them - truly mocking the law. He had countless complaints and legal claims against him from former employees and people he owes money to - all immigrants who he exploited, threatening to throw them onto the street if they did not do what he said. At their complaints he laughed.

In that restaurant he gave me my first ayahuasca.  He did not come alone, but with his 5 year old daughter called Amélis. There were blankets and a mattress on the floor. Varela told me about his experiences in the jungle and of the year he spent in jail and everything that he learned there. He then asked why I took ayahuasca and I told him that I was not doing well, that I felt very lost. Alberto told me that the plant shows you the truth about everything and that it cures even the most severe cases of illness.

I drunk the plant and had my experience, but before entering into that state, I noticed that Alberto was coming in and out of the room, often leaving me alone with is daughter. According to him his daughter was ready for that.

I started to sing and dance under the effect of ayahuasca and throughout the session I felt that people were coming in and out the room, as if it was a show. Paula, his girlfriend, the whole family, was there for an afternoon of drinking a bit of ayahuasca, as if having a beer with your buddies while watching a show.

After the experience he asked me about it. He said that I had a wonderful voice but that I did not let it come out out. According to him this created my frustration, he said he saw many blockages in me; many problems due to sexual repression. He said that I was very repressed and frustrated, according to him I had to liberate myself.  After hearing that I felt even more confused and more fragile.  He spoke to me about a possible therapeutic process for me, working with a psychologist who specialized in ayahuasca, while he (Varela) could give me homeopathic doses of ayahuasca that were prepared by a doctor.  He said to keep an eye on my internal states and to keep him posted.  He charged me 120 euros for the ayahuasca session, giving me a “special price” according to him, as he charged everyone something different.


I left feeling very strange, as if out of place. I was crying a lot. The following day Alberto sent me a text message which read: “How’s the Frustrated Singer?” I was feeling very bad and mentally confused. I couldn't think straight. I decided to call him and tell him these things. He told me there was another ayahuasca session that week.  He told me that there was a group of people coming for that session so that it would be cheaper for me. I had done my first session on a Tuesday and he was proposing I do another one that Friday.  According to him it was pefectly OK, one could have many more sessions than that in a single week.

I waited for that day but was feeling very bad, too bad to drink again. When the day arrived, just before drinking, everyone was asked to share what he or she wanted to get from this experience and that was it, Varela decided to give a different dose to each of us, according to what he believed we needed.

That night I sang and danced under the influence of ayahuasca. According to Varela it was spectacular and I was helping others with my voice. The morning after we all shared our experience with each other and went to have breakfast. Before we sat I asked to talk to Varela privately, I told him that I needed to talk with him, as I was still feeling very bad. He said no problem but instead he left quickly after breakfast saying he had to pick up his son at the airport. 

I felt horrible and I wasn't able to talk to him at all. I went to my house feeling terrible. I would cry and then I sleep, it was ias if I was in shock. I called him that evening, many times, but he wouldn't answer the phone. I got through the night as best as I could and the next morning I managed to contact him, I wanted to talk to him because I was getting worse and worse. I felt more and more confused; I needed to know what was happening to me. I was willing to talk about it on the phone.

But when he finally answered he said “There is a couple who came from Italy specifically to drink ayahuasca with me, why don’t you come over this afternoon and while I give them ayahuasca we can discuss your case, what do you think?” Feeling desperate, I agreed.


I arrived at the restaurant ‘Yatiri’, where the previous sessions had taken place.

Varela was not there but when he finally arrived he proposed to me to take ayahuasca again that night, with the Italian couple, and that I should sing for them, to help them in their process and that this would be good for me too. He said that this session was free for me. According to him, everything is a show.  After that I was even more confused, more desperate, and with an immense anguish and without having had the chance to speak with him, which was the sole reason I'd gone there.

It was a Sunday - in a single week I had taken ayahuasca on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. In amounts he judged to be right, without any criteria, guidance or direction.

The following Monday I was clearly in danger – I wanted to die, I was driving and I was tempted to crash my car, I wanted to kill myself. I was desperate, literally helpless. I just cried and cried wondering what to do and where to go.

On Tuesday I decided to call Varela again and told him how terrible I felt and that I had suicidal thoughts. He replied "A.M. why did you wait so long to tell me?" and that he would call the "psychologist" he works with, Oscar Gomez Odeja (a man who simply does not deserves this title. ) Varela said “we will call you and arrange an appointment for today to start a therapeutic process especially for you, tailored to your needs, with everything you need.”

I agreed, since I saw no other option.

I met Varela that same Tuesday and he begun to explain to me about my needs, what was the plan and how I would have to pay for the treatment. He would give me ayahuasca once a month, homeopathic doses of ayahuasca every day and I would be seeing the 'psychologist' Oscar Gomez Ojeda once a week, all, according to Varela, for the modest price of 240-250 Euros per month, for at least 3 months. Three months of ‘therapy’ that never truly ended.

That same Tuesday the "psychologist" was there to assist me. Varela had organized it all very quickly, telling me that Gomez would help me to integrate the whole experience with Ayahuasca, that he was very experienced in the matter and that it was him who I had to pay for this therapy.


And so I was trapped and wrapped in a very dangerous process that hurt me more than it helped me, much, much, more and almost made me lose my mind.

The process started. Alberto began every group ayahuasca session sharing many experiences he had had with ayahuasca.  He was particularly keep on sexual matters, saying it was normal to undress during the sessions and that many women had found sexual liberation by masturbating in front of him and Oscar while taking ayahuasca. He specifically spoke to me and told me, literally, that to solve my blockages I would have to fuck anything that moved. He said I had to: "become a whore for a while, be a whore." (with all my respect for those engaged in that profession)

With time, as the sessions were taking place I began to notice many things that Varela was not respecting - he'd suddenly disappear for a period, missing all the scheduled sessions, while I kept paying money for a process that was bearing no results.  Then he'd say that he was out of ayahuasca, but that there was more ayahuasca coming soon from Colombia where it was prepared exclusively for him.  He said that in order to bring it to Spain he had use the services of specialized drug traffickers in order to skip customs. He said it was very complicated.


Seeing that I was paying for a process that wasn't happening. I proposed to Oscar to pay him for teh sessions we had, instead of a flat fee.  Alberto made a big fuss about it and said that I was not respecting the process and if I wanted I could leave at once because he did not work in that way.

Oscar behaved as if he was Varela's puppet, first by giving me opinions about my process that were different from Varela's, then the two would argue about my process and about what was best for me. Varela was saying that I had to start fucking anything that moved and Oscar was saying that I should take my time, that it should not be as aggressive as Varela put it.

They kept arguing up the point where Varela said that it should be me the one doing therapy on Oscar, that Oscar was the one who had problems.

I though I was going to lose my mind.

For Alberto it was all about my sexual repression, he would say "A.M. liberate yourself.  When will you let go of your repression? Don’t think about it, just fuck anyone who comes over to you.”  

One night he gave me a significant amount of medicine and I undressed during the session, I was naked, in front of everyone, even his daughter who Alberto regularly took to the sessions. I danced naked and sang. I was half conscious and could not stop moving my body. Varela was applauding me.

Both Varela and Gomez were saying I was progressing in my liberation. But I did not see such a breakthrough. The focus of both, more or less aggressively, was to do with my sexual liberation, they keept on saying that I was a sexually frustrated woman, a prisoner of myself.

Many ayahuasca sessions were taking place in his house after the restaurant reopened; the location was never fixed, while the consultations with Gomez took place in his home.


One night, after taking ayahuasca, I felt very ill and stayed over after everyone else left the place. I remember Alberto saying to one attendant, a boy "I gave you a dose big enough to kill a horse."

I was feeling very bad after drinking and so Varela decided to stay with me until I was well enough to leave. I was in a state of confusion and was saying to Varela that I did not understand what love was, to which he answered me: "You do not need to understand love, become a whore, forget about love and start to fuck.”

And then said, “you know what you should know do now: masturbate in front of me.”

He continued “I can serve you, I can be a witness of your liberation, offering my presence as a man. Don't think too much about it or you will never do it and you will never be free and you will continue to live a blocked life and feel miserable. Do you think you can be strong enough to do it in front of me? It will be good for you. But I can't force you; you have to do it yourself. I will support you. Take your time, I will observe you. Now or never, this is the time.”

I closed my eyes and did what he asked while he watched. I saw nothing more, I felt that it would be good for me and that after that I would be OK with myself - somehow it was as if I had lost my own power. I lost my voice and had to obey him in order to feel good about myself, in order to succeed in my healing process and feel better again.

He congratulated me and told me that I was on the right track. I could not see, think or feel anything; I just followed his orders.

Now I wonder if Varela was mixing the brew with other substances because he told us that he made a different mix every time.


During the next ayahuasca session Varela told me that I had to come with him to Alicante for a session and that it was important for me to relate to people.

After the session I was in a car with Varela, his wife Paula and his daughter Amelis, driving to Alicante. Alberto and Paula started talking about my process and my sexual blocks and Paula encouraged me to go to a “swinger’s” bar, for sexual encounters, and to fuck with anyone who was there. Varela praised and supported her idea and told me to go with another patient of his which he said also was sexually repressed and needed to fuck. He said that we should go that very day, and that I must let myself go and fuck anyone I meet there. He said to call this guy immediately and that he (Varela) will later call me to see how it went.

I simply could not think straight, I could not feel anything and my state of mind was getting worse, I was increasingly desperate and lost, I could only see darkness.

I agreed with everything that Varela asked me to do. I called that guy and told him everything and suggested to go together to that bar. He agreed.

Before leaving my house I had complete meltdown, I didn't know what to do, I didn't want to go and on the other hand I felt that if I didn't I would never overcome my frustration and that I will be miserable for the rest of my life.

Confused and desperate I called the psychologist Gomez and told him what Varela and Paula proposed to me.  To my surprise, Gomez' exact words were “put on your shortest skirt, your most provocative cleavage and walk out the door now, no turning back, go to fuck and enjoy yourself”.
Following these orders I met with this guy, who had spent years drinking ayahuasca with Varela. Once we arrived at the swinger’s bar I started to shake, literally, I went white and pale. The guy told me "A.M. you don't have to do anything, relax, let's just talk."

We went into a room where supposedly no one could enter. I was paralyzed and scared to death until we left.

Varela said I had taken another step forward, but that I did not break my chains.


More ayahuasca sessions, homeopathic ayahuasca doses and sessions with Gomez - I did not know where I was; I just knew that I was feeling worse. According to the "psychologist" I was not advancing because I was not willing to see things. I was taking one step forward and two steps back.

The "psychologist" also spoke badly about Varela's work behind his back, while Varela was saying the same about Gomez's work, saying that Gomez wasn't direct and was only interested in detaining me as long as possible by not making me see the truth.

I was truly losing my mind.

During one of the many ayahuasca sessions we did, Varela told me that I had to come with him on a trip to the Colombian jungle with a group he was organizing. He said that in this trip I would meet with Shamans who would take me into a deep therapeutic process that would fully heal me.


With my increasingly run-down psychological state I paid my plane ticket to Colombia and a deposit of 650 Euros to Varela, who said it was necessary to secure my place.

The trip would have taken place in February 2014. I continued my therapeutic process with Varela and Gomez beyond the original 3 months, there was no end in sight, and then, apparently it was for life.

One day Varela calls me the day before my therapy session with Gomez and tells me that if I want to heal I have to stop seeing Gomez, that I must not attend his next session, to stop seeing him without giving him any notice, to forget him.  I was at the edge of madness and agreed to do so and planned not to show up for the appointment.

Gomez called me half an hour before the appointment and told me that he had to cancel our session. I no longer had any idea what was going on.

Varela then called me and said, "Just as I said to you to not show up at the session and without giving any notice, I said to Gomez to do the same. However, he could not resist and had called you – he did not pass the test. A.M. you have passed the test, now you could be your own psychologist. Gomez does not want you to heal, he is holding you back.  From now on I want you to collaborate with me as a therapist."

I was beyond confused I spoke with Gomez explaining the situation and he criticized Varela's aggressive methods. Yet Gomez the "psychologist" was like a puppet in Varela's hands.

The situation left me in bad state, after a few days I called Gomez and told him I wanted to stop the sessions with him. He asked me why and I said because I did not trust him.

I was reaching my limit; I was very, very ill and had no idea what to do regarding the trip to Colombia. At that time I was taking a voice course with a singing teacher, who Varela said was a friend of his.


One day the singing teacher noticed that I was in such a bad state and he asked me if I was OK - I began to cry and he asked me whether I wanted to talk with him after the class and I agreed. I told him everything and he said that he was not a friend of Varela, that he used to work with him years ago, but he left because of all the unethical things he witnessed Varela doing.

The teacher said to me that I really should not to go to Colombia with Varela. He said he had friends who went with on that trip before and Varela had abandoned them in the middle of the jungle. He cannot be trusted, he does his "job" very poorly, and abuses people.  He strongly advised me not to go to the jungle.

For me that was like beginning to see the light and starting a long journey to get back my sense of self, a process in which I still am in, also to get back the money for my plane ticket to Colombia, which I already paid for.

After one year of appeals, using medical and legal proof of psychological and sexual abuse by Varela, the airline decided to listen to me and reimbursed the money for my ticket.

Then I started my struggle to recover the money I paid to Varela to reserve my trip to Colombia.  At first I called him and said I was not feeling well and that I decided I could not go with him to the trip. He answered “Uyyyyy, A.M., you're sabotaging yourself not to face yourself”.

“uy uy uy” he kept on saying – “I'm not going to pay you back sorry”.

That was the last time he answered my phone calls. He disappeared, as if swallowed by the earth. At that point I started a judicial process to sue Varela, starting a long legal process to recover my money, my dignity as a woman, as a being, and as a human.


There was a trial, Varela did not show up and I won. He seemed to disappear from the face of the earth.

I showed a huge amount of documents and proof of what had happened to me but still until today Varela is legally registered unemployed and thus unable to pay - I did not get my money back and it looks like the court is paralyzed.

I also denounced him with the "WOMEN ATTENTION SERVICE" (‘SERVICIO DE ATENCIÓN A MUJERES (S.A.M.)’ and with the police for sexual abuse, although they claimed that if penetration did not occur – it is not considered abuse. I was in shock - a person can be sexually abused in so many ways and to reduce the legal consequences of this tragedy to such bureaucratic limitation seems simply inhuman; surely a woman could not have designed this policy.

I was suggested to go to a Police station where I gave long and extensive claim and testimony. At 6pm I went to S.A.M’s offices and left at 4am from the Police Station. That was the beginning of an investigation that was soon abandoned, since according to the police there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

Shortly after making my first police report, and I say first because I then reported Varela two other times afterwards, a journalist from a renowned newspaper called me and asked me to speak with me about my story.

I was shocked and called the police and asked how was it possible that this information came out and became available to a journalist. They assured me that it had nothing to do with them, but I did not believe them. Thankfully, this never came to anything and the story was never published.

In July 2015 I filed a second complaint expanding further the information given for the first and second complaint, providing more relevant data to reveal the truth about Varela, his abusive work with ayahuasca and his exploitative business enterprise.

More testimonials! This is what it is needed. This testimonial of mine aims to inspire others, to encourage anyone who wants to share and express their destructive experience with Varela, from simple money issues to abuse received by his or his team at ‘Ayahuasca International’.

I encourage you to talk and to express what happened to you for your own well-being and for the well-being of others. By putting together our intentions we can find the strength to reclaim what was ours and was taken away from us.

I hope that this text brings clarity, as a testimony of my recovery process, the recovery of what is mine - my dignity as woman, for me and for many more like me.

I truly hope this testimonial can facilitate the coming out of all the women and men who have survived similar experiences. This is the moment to bring it to all to light. This is the moment of truth."




If you have been with Ayahuasca international and you want to anonymously share your story (no hearsay, only first-hand experiences, please) please contact us by writing to conoci.a.varela@hushmail.com

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  1. Es un desgenerado , mal hombre , no tiene respeto ni por lo sagrado es un asco ...

  2. Truly horrible, sick to my stomach by reading