As a seeker of truth and knowledge, I often find myself trying to make meaning out of everything but I never expected to learn about Venezuela’s latest dilemma on Adult Swim.
Half exhausted and half delusional from a long day of work, I did a double-take when one of the witty advertisements Adult Swim is known for broadcasting mentioned the cost of condoms in Venezuela.
In Venezuela, a 36-pack of Trojan condoms now costs $755 at the official exchange rate. When compared to the price for a box of condoms here in the U.S., which is about $21, it seems that no one in Venezuela can afford to have safe sex. The huge markup is due to the collapse in oil prices, reported Bloomberg. Venezuela now “relies on oil exports for 95 percent of its foreign currency earnings and has seen a 60 percent fall in in those exports over the past seven months,” Helen Regan of Time Magazine reported. But the ludicrous price of condoms is not the only upsetting concern in Venezuela. The country also has a condom shortage.
In an effort to save money, the government has been actively slashing the importation of consumer goods such as medicine, meat, sugar, and contraceptives– even though Venezuela has one of South America’s highest rates of HIV infection and teenage pregnancy, reported Bloomberg.
“Without condoms we can’t do anything. This shortage threatens all the prevention programs we have been working on across the country,” said Johnatan Rodriguez, general director at the non-profit health group StopVIH. And to make matters worst, abortion is illegal in Venezuela.
Carlos Cabrera, vice president of the local branch of International Planned Parenthood Federation, stated that the disappearance of contraceptives will raise the number of female deaths by driving more pregnant women to clandestine clinics. A lack of condoms will also leave a long-lasting economic impact by taking girls and young women away from schools and the work force.
My findings and research suggests that the condom shortage in Venezuela has been brought to U.S. attention since February 2015, and has even been advertised on major commercial channels like Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. So, why hasn’t this “great” nation been able to rally support and give aid to our neighbor in South America?[pullquote align=”center”]Without condoms, we can’t do anything.[/pullquote]
Shouldn’t every human have a right to safe sex and be given options to prevent pregnancy, STDs and STIs? Are we not a country that stresses the importance of rights? When contacted by writers, Kurmanaev and Rosati, to speak on the recent dilemma concerning the lack of contraceptives in Venezuela, the owners behind the ever-popular U.S. condom brand Trojan refused to respond.
Once again, American companies turn a blind eye to the misfortunes that are happening overseas. While politics and economics do play a major part in the condom shortage in Venezuela, –and may be the reason a lot of companies in the U.K. and U.S. are refusing to export their resources to the South American nation – the inability to have safe sex should be a moral and global concern that transcends the petty and frequent disputes governments have.
Spokeswoman Priscilla Sotela for Durex, a U.K. based condom company, stated that Durex has stopped importing their condoms to Venezuela “because of the political situation the country is going through.” Yet, Durex gave away 150,000 free condoms to Olympians in the 2012 Olympics, reported Fox Sports and Bloomberg news. I guess, at the end of the day, I am left wondering who is responsible for ensuring that all people have access to preemptive medicines and resources.
Yet I ask this question as an American with the privilege to go to any drug store and purchase a box of condoms to use at my disposal or to visit a women’s health center and simply have my pick at a number of different condom brands for free. However, a few miles away from where I stand a woman may not have these same resources because she’s not an Olympian, or living in America, or can’t afford to spend 4,760 bolivars of her 5,600 paycheck on condoms. And I guess, when it comes down to who is responsible for ensuring that all humans have access to preemptive medicines and resources, the liability falls on all of us living in excess.
Angira Pickens is a fourth-year student majoring in Communications. She can be reached at AP765497@wcupa.