Venezuela is in the grip of economic crisis. A third of the population is going hungry, hospitals are operating without power, and a million children have been left behind by families forced to flee. Fortunately, President Nicolás Maduro has a solution for that: More children!
Give birth!” he said while promoting a women’s healthcare “plan” on Tuesday. “Every woman is to have six children! Every one! For the good of the country!”
This struck his suffering constituents as an insulting suggestion in the face of the country’s collapse.
“Hospitals are not functioning, vaccines are scarce, women cannot breastfeed because they are malnourished or buy baby formula because it is unaffordable, and the country faces forced migration due to the humanitarian emergency,” Manuela Bolivar, an opposition politician, tweeted.
The details of the healthcare plan that Maduro was touting are hazy at best, with little information having been revealed beyond the call to increase the nation’s birthrate, the Guardian reports. (The paper’s Venezuela correspondent is skeptical that any plans exists...at all.)
“You have to be very cynical to ask that we have six children,” Magdalena de Machado told the Independent as she picked through wilting vegetables at a Caracas street market.
“Only two days a week we can serve some meat and chicken. For years we were late having children. We had them when we thought we were better off, but in the last year we’ve been buying less and less food.”
Maduro has been in power since 2013, during which time one of the most powerful economies in South America has been reduced to ruins. Maduro has frequently come across as contemptuous of his country’s suffering: In 2018, he was filmed gorging on a steak prepared by celebrity chef Salt Bae on a visit to Turkey.
Meanwhile, the countrywide shortage of everything from food to medical care—paired with the difficulty of obtaining contraceptives and strict abortion laws—has contributed to a spike in abandoned babies, with one charity estimating that abandonments went up 70 percent in 2018 alone.