Venezuelan Humor Has Turned Mordant, which Means that the Venezuelan Political Landscape Could Be Ripe for Change

Nicolás Maduro had better be worried. Jokes like this one have become popular:

An Englishman and a Frenchman are at a museum, admiring a Renaissance work depicting Adam, Eve, and the apple in Eden. The Briton observes that Adam sharing the apple with his wife shows a particularly British propriety. The Frenchman, unconvinced, counters that the pair’s obvious comfort with their nudity clearly marks them as French. A passing Venezuelan, overhearing, remarks candidly, “Sorry to intrude, caballeros, but these are obviously Venezuelans: they have nothing to wear, practically nothing to eat, and they are allegedly in Paradise.”

Daniel Lansberg-Rodríguez, the writer of the linked piece, reminds us that many of these jokes have a Warsaw Pact provenance. We all know what happened to the Warsaw Pact, don’t we? Of course, there is no guarantee that a revolution in Venezuela is on the horizon, but jokes like the ones that Lansberg-Rodríguez highlights are born from massive political discontent:

. . . Venezuelans’ patience with the system does appear to be rubbed raw. With the country’s economic model seemingly continuing its inexorable disintegration, pro-government media have tried to placate the populace with think pieces purporting to explain why waiting in line is actually good for you, and have lauded the state’s creation of a new Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness, but the results have been underwhelming. According to a survey conducted in December by the polling firm Datanálisis, eighty-six per cent of Venezuelans currently think that the country is off track, and only twenty-three per cent approve of Maduro. Meanwhile, YouTube videos showing barren shelves, people stampeding for scarce products, and angry outbursts from those in line (particularly when the well-connected attempt to skip ahead) circulate widely, even beyond the opposition’s traditional middle-class base. It has long been an exasperated mantra among critics of the revolutionary regime that Venezuelans should stop laughing at their misfortunes and actually do something about them. From jokes to polls, there are signs that this motion is taking place.