Valentine’s Day at the End of the Rope

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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.

29 COMMENTS

  1. “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.”

    Where the hell were girls like Astrid when I was young?

  2. Well, no cash and no taxi drivers disponible who can do banesco to banesco transfer…So Valentines Day lunch was a complete flop…

    Nevertheless on this rainy Valentines day I am chatting with my girlfriend now about latest news that needs to be confirmed. This one is going viral all over whatsapp. Here is a quick translation:

    “I am Elio Palacios. I invite all of the country to hear the plight of the electric workers. In the drama that we live as workers, every day more grave, the nation needs to be informed of the “Gran Apagon Nacional” (the great blackout) that will occur in all of Venezeula. We do not know when, or what hour or in days from now. I Elio Palacios, who made this audio, with no fear of repressions of this government. I am secratary general of the union Maranda-Caracas of Corpolec.”

    Here is the same audio from filosofo 777 with all the technical details (and does not involve iguanas or sabotage by the CIA):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdFU34hlYts

    Now you cannot just sack the electric workers at this point in time, because most qualified students have already left the country. My girlfriend’s ex used to work for Corpolec and now is part of the Venezuelan diaspora in El Imperio. The amount of workers that have left over the last few years is incredible. They do not have anyone who can replace them if they do stand up the regime. You cannot just replace them with some muppets wearing red. It is a very dangerous job and you have to know what you are doing.

    The unions had a big role in bringing down Communism in Poland, hopefully this audio is legit and another huge blow for the Maduristas.

  3. “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.”

    Wooww, what a perfect romantic evening!! Cheap condoms, cheap motels, expensive condoms. Forget that extra- romantic pink Viagra pill, probably worth 150 million Bs. Beautiful Kleptozuelan Valentine’s day!

  4. I spent my Valentine’s with my boyfriend, mostly working: We have our own company together and were making calls to providers for price updates, calling clients asking for transfer vouchers/screencaps before the price hike kicks in and we’re left on red numbers (again) and other relater errands.

    We then ate some discount pizza (8″ margarita for 0.25$), had some cake and he took me to his local bodega for some groceries, as i had nothing to eat tonight.

    Meanwhile, my friends abroad are having candle-lit dinners, out to the movies -past sunset- or are having a get together between friends.

    Can’t help but feel extremely jealous.

      • I was “out” since i was 18 when i started college in Maracay, away from home. Just 2 years ago i truly understood what being out meant.

        I’m openly gay, i use words like “boyfriend” and hold hands with him in public, crack gay jokes like they’re nothing, greet him with a kiss and kiss him goodbye in the middle of the street and the only “discrimination” i’ve gotten is some glares. The only time we actually have to to watch out what we say and how we express ourselves is while using public transportation. If someone has discomfort, they don’t voice it. Not even the evangelical types we’ve come across (we’re together most of our days, since we work together). Of course not being able to marry sucks, and there is rampant homophobia in the country, even in the -supposedly- educated middle and upper middle classes, or what’s left of it. But the way i see it, it doesn’t really affect me what other people think about who i decide to be with.

        Obviously we want to migrate, together. We’re working on it, but it isn’t cheap and the process is cumbersome. Same old.

        • No matter what the rest of the crop here says, I have an extra bedroom for you and your significant other in Chicago whenever you find yourself here. Some of the commenters can not seem to distinguish between freedom of belief and actual freedom.

        • I remember 1988, before Chavez, my wife (before we were married) and her friends were making jokes to each other about a very effeminate gay male couple at a VZ beach.

          I found their behavior strange, living in NYC at the time and thinking nothing of it.

          It wasn’t until we were married and she moved to NYC, and worked with and got to know gay people, that she understood people were still people apart from their sexual preferences. Good and bad on both sides.

          Before that, it was an “oddity” to her.

          • It happens. People tend to forget other people are more than who they sleep with and their mannerisms. Glad to hear your wife was able to see through her own preconceptions, we all could learn a lot from that.

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