Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro announced a $6 “Baby Jesus Bonus” for the country’s poorest families in an effort to ease the pressure of the socialist country’s worsening humanitarian crisis.
According to state propaganda outlet VTV, the country’s Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP) will provide “10 million gifts for the children of Venezuela” in a bid to “protect the Venezuelan people from the mafias and the economic war.”
The bonus is also to ensure that four million families have toys for their children for the Christmas season.
“Venezuelan children will receive their toys this Christmas,” Maduro said. “Venezuela, here it is, the Baby Jesus Bond. Four million families will benefit from 500,000 bolivars in basket tickets for the Venezuelan family.”
The bonuses are one of a number of “important surprises” Maduro promised this month after he announced a “Christmas season of happiness” on November 1.
Although comparatively low, the 500,000 bolivar gift presents a significant bonus for many Venezuelan families, whose monthly minimum wage of 175,000 bolivares is now worth just $2.13, equivalent to just more than one cent an hour.
The Maduro regime has repeatedly used the Christmas season alongside a range of bizarre indoctrination programs as a distraction from the country’s collapse, which has seen millions of people plunged into poverty and famine amid a growing scarcity of basic resources, such as power, medicine, and sanitary products.
Last year, the government seized nearly four million toys from a private company to hand them out to poor children this holiday season, which the government said was an attempt to show “that you can’t play with the rights of Venezuelans.”
Other initiatives include the release of socialist Christmas carols urging businesses to lower the prices of goods, the introduction of a “socialist Barbie” sold at a tenth of its retail value, as well as threatening to arrest business owners who refuse to hold Christmas sales.
The regime has also accused the opposition leaders of playing the “Grinch trying to steal Christmas” after they suggested that additional government-sponsored holidays would place further pressure on the country’s economy, which is already collapsing.
Yet on announcing his Christmas “season of happiness,” Maduro argued that the country’s recent struggles “have all been worth it.”
“All our work has been worth it,” he said. “To continue our path of building a country that finds solutions to its problems, as part of a great communal effort amongst Venezuelans who think innovatively.”