Imagine you’re Nicolás Maduro. You’re down in the polls. People are angry about empty shelves. You’re in need of someone new, a new face for spinning the economic crisis … somebody untainted enough to provide a semblance of a fresh start, yet dogmatic enough to please the entrenched interests in the ruling party. If I were Maduro, the recipe I would follow would be to find:
- someone bold enough to say, on live TV, that price controls have no effect on the economy, even though this is demonstrably untrue,
- someone with no real knowledge of economics, whose “academic” career includes stints in ideological hotbeds such as Universidad Bolivariana and UNEFA, places where such counter-revolutionary actions such as “confronting ones ideas with those of someone who thinks differently” are strictly verboten… a chavista political scientist, perhaps?
- someone who understands the obvious links between the fingerprint scanners for shoppers and the fingerprint scanners for voters, and is willing to remind people that, in both cases, the government is watching you,
- someone who thinks violence in prisons is a media concoction,
- someone who will go on live TV repeating the mantra that scarcity is the opposition’s fault,
- someone who thinks the revolution actually cares about foreign reserves, when the opposite is true,
- someone who thinks the key to promoting car production in the country is allowing people to import cars – ignoring the fact that the government allows neither, and hinders both,
- someone willing to be any place, any time in order to defend his revolution,
- someone who longs for the old PVP system, where the government mandated that prices be marked on all products, ignoring the fact that in an inflationary environment such as Venezuela’s, this is incredibly costly and unsustainable,
- and yet, someone willing to put on a tie once in a while.
Yesss. Yessss. Take complete ignorance, add a dash or chutzpah, a morsel of groveling, a smidgen of youth, and a grain of psychotic longing for the Eternal Commander, and you get … Andrés Eloy Méndez, Superintendent for Price Controls, the newest, brightest star in chavista economic policy circles.
Something tells me we’ll be hearing a lot more from him.