Photo: CNN

The Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness of the Venezuelan People (VMSSHVP) is really failing at its job.

One might expect its objectives would be increasingly challenging, since it was conceived in 2013, given the violence, hyperinflation and shortages of everything from medicine to food. It’s hard to be happy when you have nothing to eat and you’re sick with no medicines.

Hunger and poverty can be measured by weight loss and minimum wage, but what about happiness? Given that the Venezuelan government hasn’t been at all forthcoming about statistics on its performance for years now, we can’t expect any better from the VMSSHVP, can we? As usual, we have to go elsewhere to know what’s really going on in that opaque and burgeoning monstrosity known as “the Bolivarian government.”

Venezuela came in last in Latin America, behind much happier places like Somalia and Bulgaria, and it also placed last as the country with the biggest change.

And here’s the World Happiness Report, which in its just-released edition begins by telling us that “Latin Americans consistently score higher on happiness — and on a range of other subjective well-being indicators — than respondents in other world regions with comparable income levels.”

A Latin American government with una Revolución Bonita and a ministry dedicated to happiness should be a shoo-in for first place, right?

Well, no. Venezuela didn’t do well at all — even when compared to mara-plagued Honduras and El Salvador. In fact, Venezuela came in last in Latin America, behind much happier places like Somalia and Bulgaria, and it also placed last as the country with the biggest change in terms of “happiness loss” in the entire world (there’s “an astonishing decline in people’s evaluation of life”, p. 122 World Happiness Report).  

It’s not clear if Rafael Ríos is still Vice Minister of Happiness, but perhaps it’s time for Maduro to do what he usually does with people who fail miserably at their jobs: promote whoever is Vice Minister and transfer the deposed to another ministry where he’s also bound to fail. In fact, Ríos might be a good candidate for a ministry created especially for him: The Ministry of Supreme Social Irony.

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