Due to the socialist economic policies of President Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela has faced a severe shortage of everything from toilet paper to water. But now, the nation is facing a new type of economic hardship: Venezuela is running out of breast implants, and women are taking risks with shady products to make up for it.
The New York Post notes that the high tariffs on imports and difficulty in acquiring products from the United States are hindering surgical procedures. Doctors are complaining that importing products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration–which Venezuelan doctors trust much more than other international health agencies–has become near impossible “because restrictive currency controls have deprived local businesses of the cash to import foreign goods.”
Venezuela is believed to have one of the highest plastic surgery rates in the world, and the shortage does not appear to have stopped the number of procedures. Instead, women are resorting to increasingly dangerous methods of enhancing their breasts, including using implants that are the wrong size and agreeing to use implant devices made in China, which are of much lower quality and present significant danger to those who receive them.
Doctors have protested that the government is hurting the “self-esteem” of Venezuelan women, who are significantly more likely to endure cosmetic surgery than women in other countries. El Nuevo Herald notes that it is common tradition to gift a 15-year-old girl, or quinceañera, plastic surgery as a rite of passage into adulthood. The tradition often clashed with the Marxist values of the Chávez dictatorship; today, Maduro’s policies are in open hostility with cosmetic traditions in the country.
Not only are Venezuelans enduring a lack of basic goods like toilet paper and living under water rations, but almost every aspect of public life is plagued with shortages. In addition to cosmetic surgeries, required medical procedures have dropped in number due to scant equipment, while amputations have skyrocketed since doctors lack the tools required to save limbs. A lack of lumber and other materials in June sparked a shortage of coffins–highly sought-after goods, given that Venezuela has the second-highest murder rate in the world. The Venezuelan government has also limited imports of ink and paper to prevent opposition newspapers–and even major newspapers like El Universal–from going to print.
The Venezuelan government has often denied the shortages, instead blaming the Colombian government for being too lenient on the so-called “black market” around goods in Venezuela. Gasoline is of particularly high priority for the Venezuelan government, as its vast oil reserves would suffice to make it a wealthy country under a free market. Under a socialist government that gives away much of the oil to state sponsors of terrorism for free, Venezuelans are turning to a black market for cheaper gas prices.