Valentine’s Day at the End of the Rope

Original art by @modográfico

On this pinkest of days, spare a thought for those trying to have a love life in Venezuela. While nothing compares to seeing the one you love and getting those flying creatures in your stomach, a look at your bank account will turn those butterflies into sharp stabs to the gut.  

When I was a teen, anyone could afford chocolates, Valentine’s day cards and flowers. It was fairly easy to get a hand on condoms, go to a motel or find that time slot in which you knew there would be no one home. However, when you grow old so do your expectations and, in this crisis, your expectations of romance will hardly be met. Thanks to this government, you’re probably an adult still living with your parents, too broke to afford more than three condoms a month.

Many things we used to take for granted, like heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, serenades, flowers or going out for dinner, are out the question for almost everyone. People are struggling to eat anything at all, so this kind of romantic gestures is just not happening.

200 gr of chocolate cost about 20% of minimum wage. A three-pack of condoms is 12% of minimum wage. 6 hours in a motel will cost you half what you earn in a month.

Infographics by @modográfico

For years, thanks to public programs, the pill was available at outpatient clinics and condoms were handed out in classrooms and various places all over the country. While supplies were not that reliable, at least the government tried to keep them in stock. Not anymore: Maduro is offering pregnant women a monthly bonus for being pregnant, equivalent to 90% of minimum wage, and a final 1.5 minimum wage bonus on the baby’s arrival.

How romantic for a day like today: this new policy will turn into many bundles of joy. Now you can count on unaffordable birth control as an excuse and Valentine’s as an opportunity to get your hands on that shiny bonus.

What else is left? People will have to trudge through today without a stuffed animal or flowers at the office and after eating the 2×1 promo at the hot dog stand, the back of a car will have to suffice.

Thanks to this government, you’re probably an adult still living with your parents, too broke to afford more than three condoms a month.

That is if your partner hasn’t gone abroad. For many, today is just another heartbreaking day that will go without a kiss or a hug from the person they love the most; the crisis has broken up entire families and thousands of relationships. When dating, the thing you ask right after “which are your hobbies?” is “what country are you migrating to?”

Don’t get me wrong, this is not about frivolity. This is about quality of life. When happiness becomes secondary to survival, days like today just remind us of our total misfortune. This is about the frustration we face as adults under this regime.

The bright side? You know it’s love when you don’t mind sitting at your in-laws’ living room to watch a movie (pirated, naturally).

I do believe love finds a way, but there’s nothing sexy about feeling under-accomplished, broke or overall lousy. And these are all side effects from living most of your life under a communist regime.

Love might be in the air, normality is not.

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