Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced on Thursday his administration plans to create a new government bureau: The Vice Ministry for the Supreme Social Happiness of the Venezuelan People.
So what would an office with such a grand name do?
The new government agency plans to ensure that social programs known as "missions" are running well. It will also take petitions for new social programs and tend to the needs of "viejitos" and "viejitas" (older men and women), Maduro said on Thursday.
The announcement comes just six weeks before municipal elections and at a time when Maduro and his government are facing an inflation rate exceeding thirty percent. The oil rich nation is also experiencing food and energy shortages throughout the country.
Some say Maduro is trying to ensure victory for government candidates at the polls, by jacking up social spending, (especially among key voting blocks like viejitas and viejitas.) His mentor and hero, Hugo Chavez used similar strategies in previous elections, setting up health care programs in Venezuela's slums for example, just a few months before a critical referendum on his rule, back in 2004.
That's why the creation of the "happiness" ministry sort of makes political sense.
What I don't get here though is where the love for Orwellian terms comes from.
Did Maduro study “1984” in high school before he became a union leader? Is he a fan of Aldous Huxley's “Brave New World” by any chance?
If you are not convinced of this gentleman's panache for dystopian terms, consider the following:
He regularly calls Hugo Chavez the "eternal leader" of the Venezuelan revolution.
Earlier this week he emphatically invited Venezuelans to read Chavez's "blue book" a publication that gathers the thoughts of the deceased Venezuelan leader, whom Maduro also calls "the prophet" of the Bolivarian revolution.
To top things off Maduro and his advisers have come up with a special term for local elections that occur across the country on December 8. It's called the "day of love and loyalty to Hugo Chavez," the eternal leader of the revolution.
What's next? Rations of soma to ensure the happiness of Venezuelan citizens?