Just as he did last year, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is starting off the holiday season early to distract from the massive failures of his socialist regime. This time, Maduro is kicking off the holiday season with a “socialist Barbie,” which is the same Barbie all children know and love, reduced to a tenth of retail value.
According to Spanish newspaper ABC, Maduro is using the government’s hand to force toy vendors to sell Barbies—the Mattel brand doll, not off-brand imitations—at a tenth of their retail price, in order to entice Venezuelans to invest in the OPEC nation’s fledgling market. The price reduction, which allows mothers to buy one doll for the equivalent of $2.50, has left stores depleted of their Barbie supply in “minutes.” The initiative is part of something Maduro calls “Happy Christmas.” The “integral plan” was launched in October and will include, according to the President, “national security, culture, and music.”
Maduro has added in announcing the Happy Christmas Plan that reducing the prices of the doll is an attempt to prevent “speculators” from “ruining the holiday.” Mexican publication El Financiero notes that Barbie is just the latest product to fall under strict price regulation from the government. Eggs, milk, flour, and other essentials have long been under strict price controls that have significantly damaged the Venezuelan economy, so much so that, earlier this year, Maduro imposed rations on the products preventing individuals from buying more than their allotted supply. Necessarily, goods have become so scarce in this socialist economy that President Maduro has had to resort to rationing even water.
Many have noted that using the Barbie doll to launch this initiative appears a strange move for the socialist President. Barbie has been for decades one of the most identifiable icons of American industry– the “Empire” that Maduro claims to so loathe. Hugo Chávez himself was often critical of the doll, as have been many leftist “feminists” for claiming that the doll imposes unreasonable beauty standards on small children.
The move also appears to be doing little to curry favor among Venezuela’s poor. Andrea Alberto, a woman interviewed by the Mexican Editorial Organization, said of Maduro as she bought a doll: “he is the reason we are in this mess to begin with, but I guess I have to admit I am benefitting from Chavism at the moment,” with a shrug.
Last year, Maduro celebrated the holiday season by releasing a “socialist” Christmas carol in which he and a chorus literally sung his own praises.