Venezuela’s unfolding crisis, as told by its version of The Onion

Hard to laugh about.
Hard to laugh about.
Image: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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Venezuela’s presidential election will take place on May 20, amid various crises. Inflation is by some measures 18,000%, meaning basic food items can cost a month’s salary. Cash is worth so little that people are making bags out of it. The incumbent president, Nicolás Maduro, is expected to rig the election.

The best way to understand the despair in Venezuela is not reading the state-run media, but El Chigüire Bipolar, a satirical news site that turns the country’s tragedies into dark, insightful comedy. The site’s name translates to “The Bipolar Capybara.” The capybara, of course, being the world’s largest rodent.

Much like The Onion in the United States, El Chigüire headlines often encapsulate a national sentiment that the news is some combination of absurd and wrong. It is hugely popular, with over 2 million Twitter followers. Quartz has translated several recent headlines, adding bits of the piece or additional context. Satire, it turns out, is a good gauge of how people are feeling.

Supermarket puts armed escorts on the shelves to protect products

The high price of some—if not all—products, combined with easy access on the shelves and a constant influx of people to supermarkets, has created the perfect setting for those who feel tempted to take something without paying.

Transportation stoppage will no longer be an excuse for missing work

There are those who prefer to view crisis as opportunity, and this is the case for William Muñoz (28), who took advantage of the transportation stoppage to start his own company carrying people on his back.

Unemployed Kellogg’s mascots find work in the animal lottery

Cash-strapped Venezuelans have often turned to “animalitos,” a lottery game where would-be winners place bets on various animals. El Chigüire writes:

Kellogg’s has added its name to the long list of international companies that have said adiós to Venezuela; nevertheless, Tony the Tiger, Tucan Sam, and other company mascots continue their daily lives, but are left with no other option than finding work in the lottery of animalitos.

Child who doesn’t have class due to election fraud sells fraudulent lemonade

The Ministry of People’s Power, Parochial, State, Universal, Bolivarian, Zamorist, and Socialist for Education ordered the suspension of academic activities throughout the country from Tuesday May 15 to Monday May 21, for the purpose of installing voting machines to carry out presidential “elections.” Anyone might think that children would be at home playing or watching television. That’s not always the case. María Alejandra “Mariale” Guzmán, who considers this vacation to be the undeserved result of fraudulent elections, decided to send a message by selling fraudulent lemonade, which is actually water with yellow dye.

Government takes action on Gringotts

Faced with the need to find someone responsible for Venezuela’s economic crisis—which they themselves created—the government took action today against the principal bank of wizards and witches, Gringotts, after arresting 11 of the bank’s executives for supposed complicity in speculation against the local currency, the Bolivar.

Tired of waiting for the bus, passengers get home via conga line

This one is a nice pun, as the Venezuelan term for “conga line” is “trencito,” or “little train.”

To the rhythm of a “Weeeeeepa!”, the head of the conga line, Mrs. Nuria Gómez, explained the operation of this odd means of transport.

Here’s one more for good measure:

Ancestral clay tablets reveal that ancient Mesopotamia approved of the Maduro administration

After years of analysis, researchers at High Wycombe University in Australia successfully translated the symbols of an ancient Babylonian tablet, dated between 1822 and 1762 BC. They have revealed that the ancient cuneiform script was a message to the future, in which the government of Hammurabi gave approval for the officials in the Venezuelan government.

Venezuela’s election might be a foregone conclusion. But we look forward to seeing how El Chigüire makes sense of the absurdity.