Money can’t buy you love, but in Venezuela, safe sex comes with a hefty price tag. As the petroleum-rich country’s economy is slammed by falling oil prices, expensive imports like condoms are becoming a luxury only the wealthy can afford. After disappearing from pharmacy shelves in November, a 36-pack of Trojans is being auctioned for $755 online, close to one month’s minimum wage salary, Bloomberg reports.
Condoms are the latest victim of falling oil prices in Venezuela, where citizens now wait in long lines for items like milk and diapers. But the condom shortage is particularly troublesome because Venezuela suffers from one of the highest HIV rates in the region according to the World Bank, and the second highest teen pregnancy rate in Latin America, according to the United Nations.
“The country is so messed up that now we have to wait in line even to have sex,” 31-year-old Jonatan Montilla told Bloomberg. “This is a new low.”
Crude oil exports account for almost all of Venezuela’s foreign currency earnings, but falling oil prices sent the country’s revenue down by 60 percent in the last seven months, according to the Bloomberg report. Meanwhile, inflation has spiraled out of control, hitting 63 percent in November.
President Nicolas Maduro has responded to the crisis by slashing the country’s imports. This year, Venezuela is expected to import 42 percent less than in 2012, according to the report. Companies like U.S. toiletries producer, Kimberly-Clark, and Ford have said the lack of access to U.S. dollars makes it difficult to operate in Venezuela profitably.
But Maduro blames the long waits for products and lack of access to items on opposition leaders and businesses he says are smuggling, price gouging and hoarding items. On Thursday, he arrested the two executives of Farmatodo, a major pharmacy chain, for exacerbating long waits in lines at their stores, and earlier this week authorities took control of 35 supermarkets accused of hoarding food.