Venezuela Creates a ‘Vice Ministry of Supreme Happiness’

Niños del colegio Jesús María Olaso en Caracas, Venezuela. Foto de Marino González en Flickr, bajo licencia Creative Commons  (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Children at Jesús María Olaso school in Caracas, Venezuela. Photo courtesy of Marino González on Flickr, under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced [es] the creation of a Vice Ministry for the Supreme Social Happiness of the Venezuelan People. The Vice Ministry's objective is to coordinate the more than 30 social missions that have been created in Venezuela since the late ex-president Hugo Chávez took power. Maduro also explained [es] that he named it “in honour of our commander Chávez and of [Simón] Bolívar.”

Venezuela's Social Missions are “massive strategies oriented to guarantee fundamental rights to the population, with emphasis on the traditionally most excluded social and economic sectors”, as explained on the website of PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., or Petroleum of Venezuela in English), an institution which supports many of these missions financially.

A few days ago José Luis Tapia Sandoval, on the blog Práctica Democrática (Democratic Practice) analysed [es] Venezuela's Social State and Social Missions. According to Tapia, “the missions, at least at the planning level, move along a path of complementarity, and are guided by the principle of equity, seeking to address inequalities at their very core”:

Por lo que se ha discutido e investigado hasta el momento de las misiones sociales, por sus metodologías de abordaje, por la forma del financiamiento, y por la edificación de estructuras institucionales paralelas, pareciera que no es objetivo de las misiones resolver los problemas sociales del país en forma estructural, sino avocarse a las desigualdes más acuciantes de la población durante el tiempo que así lo exija, mientras se ejerce un esfuerzo simultáneo de mejoras en la cobertura y la calidad de las prestaciones sociales desde otras instancias del Estado y desde las políticas tradicionales.

From what has been discussed and researched so far about the social missions, from their methodological approach, from the way they are financed, and from the building of parallel institutional structures, it would seem that the missions’ objectives do not include resolving the country's social problems in a structural manner, but rather to focus on the population's most pressing inequalities during the required time frame, while a simultaneous effort is carried out to improve the coverage and quality of social services from other State agencies and from traditional policies. 

On Twitter the reaction to this measure was a mixture of scepticism, mockery and sarcasm:

Vice Ministry for the supreme happiness of the blah blah blah blah blah (a.k.a. Parasite bureaucracy)

They create a vice ministry for supreme social happiness… it's so difficult to be happy in this country, that they create an organisation for it

A country where the National Guard protects the sale of chicken, and a “Vice Ministry for the Supreme Social Happiness of the People” is created.

Stop suffering, because now we have a Vice Ministry for Supreme Social Happiness…Disney style left-wing politics

“Hello? Vice Ministry of supreme happiness? I'm very sad because every day prices go up and more Venezuelans are killed each day”.

I imagine that the office of the Vice Ministry for Supreme Happiness will be in another country.

On the other hand, comparisons with George Orwell's book Nineteen Eighty-Four were inevitable:

Maduro creates the Vice Ministry of Supreme Happiness of the People (a name that sounds straight out of an Orwell book). How did we not think of this before!?

In the newspeak of Venezuela's totalitarian regime Minihap (ministry of happiness) has been created. Next: Minitrue (of truth); Miniluv (of love)

The state agency that will regulate scarcity and poverty in Venezuela will be called “VICE MINISTRY OF SUPREME HAPPINESS” .. Orwell predicted it

In addition, President Maduro announced [es] the names of the people who will now be responsible for the Social Missions, and nominated former congressman Rafael Ríos as Vice Minister.


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