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For The Sake Of Happiness, Venezuela's Maduro Moves Up Christmas

<strong>Yey Christmas:</strong> Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro rises his clenched fist during a political meeting in Caracas, on August 7, 2013.
Juan Barreto
AFP/Getty Images
Yey Christmas: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro rises his clenched fist during a political meeting in Caracas, on August 7, 2013.

Perhaps Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is taking a hint from big U.S. retailers: For the sake of happiness, Maduro said, he declared an early beginning to the Christmas season.

"Today, on this first day of November, we decided to declare the arrival of Christmas, because we want happiness for all people," Maduro said.

Maduro made the decree on Friday, which means we're a bit late to this story, but it was too good to pass up.

Fox News Latino reports:

"During a visit to the so-called Socialist Christmas Fair 2013, organized by the government in a central area of Caracas, Maduro exchanged a few words with actors posing as the Three Kings, sang traditional Venezuelan Christmas songs and witnessed the sale of typical holiday food and items.

"The surprising announcement came a week after the creation of the new cabinet post of Deputy Minister of Supreme Happiness, which was greeted with jeers. Now critics say that with his generous Christmas measure, President Maduro is trying to ease off growing discontent over the country's economic crisis, food shortages and the spike of crime in Caracas."

In video posted by BBC Mundo, a jolly Maduro says that an early Christmas is the best vaccine for whoever wants to start "rioting and violence."

If you were cynical, you might think happiness may not be Maduro's only objective with this calendar switcheroo.

El Universal reports the new schedule means that the government will finish paying Christmas bonuses by Dec. 1. The Christian Science Monitor reports municipal elections will be held Dec. 8.

This decree also comes just a few days after Maduro made another stunning announcement: Maduro said that the late Hugo Chávez appeared in a subway tunnel.

The AFP explains:

"President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday workers in the tunnel saw the image come and go, and he showed a photo of the alleged visage in a rally in Caracas.

"'Look at the figure, a face. This picture was taken by the workers,' he said, smiling. 'Chavez is everywhere.'

"Maduro, handpicked by the ailing Chavez to run for president upon his death, said during the election campaign in April that he had seen the populist leader incarnated as 'a little bird.'"

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.