The Venezuelan president hasn't said much about his supposed new health-care plan for women—some aren't even sure if there even is an actual plan, notes the Guardian—but the instructions Nicolas Maduro offered on Tuesday to female citizens generated instant backlash. "Give birth!" Maduro said during a health care event shown on TV. "Every woman is to have six children! Every one! For the good of the country!" To one of the women with him at the event, Maduro added, per the BBC: "May God bless you for having given life to six little girls and boys." What Fox News calls Maduro's "bizarre" request comes as Venezuela is mired in a severe socioeconomic crisis, with food and medical supply shortages and an estimated child malnutrition rate of 13%, per UNICEF.
Blowback was swift. "Hospitals do not work, vaccines are scarce, moms cannot breastfeed because they are malnourished, fewer buy formula because it is unaffordable, and the country faces forced migration from the humanitarian emergency," opposition politician Manuela Bolivar posted online. Women's groups had a second reason for slamming Maduro, who has a reputation for being at best tone-deaf and at worst "sinister," per the Guardian: "We women are much more than a womb, we are citizens with rights," one critic noted. The US and dozens of other countries around the globe recognize not Maduro but opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, though Maduro still holds the reins. (Read more Venezuela stories.)