Venezuela's economic crisis has caused unprecedented shortages of of basic goods—making contraception nearly impossible to find, and even harder to afford. As a result, teen pregnancy, illegal abortion, and HIV are all on the rise.
"The situation is critical," said Belmar Franceschi, head of PLAFAM, a Venezuela-based sexual and reproductive health advocacy group. "For over a year now, there have been shortages across the board. It is almost impossible to find condoms and other contraceptive methods, and when you do they are astronomically expensive."
In Venezuela's pharmacies, a pack of three condoms can cost as much as the equivalent of $169 USD, says Jhonatan Rodriguez, head of NGO StopVIH—which is roughly five days' salary for the average worker in the country. "We either eat or we buy other products. The minimum wage doesn't stretch far enough. It doesn't even cover basic groceries," he said.
On the country's flourishing black market, the price of condoms doubles or even triples. When products become available, many struggling Venezuelans buy them and sell them on at inflated prices that most can't afford. The practice has become so common that a new word has entered Venezuelan lexicon: "bachaquero," named after a leaf-carrying ant. "Bachaqueros buy contraception and then sell it to people at whatever price they want," said Freddy Ceballos, president of the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation. "People are desperate. They are taking anything they can get hold of." Read more via Broadly