Latin America & Caribbean

Dark humour in a crisis: Venezuelans vent anger on social media

A picture of a skeleton and a post reading: "Waiting for Tiby [Venezuelan electoral authority head Tibisay Lucena] to say something important" Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Venezuelans joked about the announcement made by the country's electoral authority: "Waiting for Tiby [Venezuelan electoral authority head Tibisay Lucena] to say something important"

Venezuela is in the midst of an economic and social crisis and the opposition's efforts to hold a recall referendum to get rid of the president have hit an apparent roadblock.

The authorities' announcement of the timetable for a possible referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro has prompted an outpouring of anger on social media.

According to the timetable set out by National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena, the opposition will only be allowed to proceed with the next step in the process in late October.

This makes it almost impossible for any referendum to go ahead this year.

The timing of the referendum is crucial because under Venezuela's constitution a vote to recall Mr Maduro before 10 January would trigger a presidential election.

In the event of a vote against Mr Maduro after that date, his loyal vice-president Aristobulo Isturiz would take over, meaning the Socialist party would remain in power.

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The opposition has long accused Ms Lucena of siding with Mr Maduro and the governing PSUV party and dragging her heels on purpose to avoid fresh elections.

The slowness of her response has been a favourite topic for cartoonists.

Others portrayed her as a puppet of President Maduro:

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "Maduro relies on the illegality of Tibisay [Lucena] to sidestep the verdict of the people. It will be useless. We will recall him."

Many just thought her explanation of why the process took as long as it did just did not add up. They expressed their anger under the hashtag "Tibisay don't make a mistake":

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "Tibisaydon'tmakeamistake graphic representation of how we Venezuelans view the explanation by Tiby and her slides

Some did not picture Ms Lucena but focussed instead on Henrique Capriles, the opposition leader behind the recall referendum.

This one showed Mr Capriles "waiting for peaceful change":

Image copyright Twitter

But the electoral authorities are not the only target of satirists.

As Venezuela's economic crisis continues to deepen, many citizens have also turned to dark humour to vent their frustration.

An inflation rate which the International Monetary Fund predicts could rise to 700% in 2016 was one of the topics picked up by satirical news website El Chiguire Bipolar, which translates as The Bipolar Capybara.

The website said the skyrocketing inflation rate had helped Venezuelans understand the concept of infinity:

Image copyright El Chiguire Bipolar
Image caption Inflation allows Venezuelans to understand the meaning of infinity. Venezuelan Inflation = infinity

Others have made a mockery of the astronomical sums needed to buy basic items such as two pasties and a juice:

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Year 2020: Hello sir, could I have two pasties and a juice?

Chronic shortages of basic items are one of the most noticeable effects of Venezuela's economic crisis and arguably the one hitting Venezuelans hardest.

The shortages have given risen to a whole new group of "entrepreneurs". People who buy goods at subsidised prices and then sell them on for huge profits on the black market,

They are known in Venezuela as "bachaqueros", the term given to black marketeers.

Below is one making fun of how a black marketeer could give a girl goose bumps by the sheer mention of some of the scarcest goods:

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption I have rice, milk, corn flour and sugar… I'm a black marketeer"

The hashtag #SoloEnVenezuela, or OnlyInVenezuela, is also used by some to share comments on power cuts and cuts to running water, which were a problem in recent months when a drought reduced water levels in Venezuela's main reservoir to a critical level.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Wake up, the water's back on!

The dismal safety record of the capital Caracas does not escape mockery either.

The city was recently ranked as the world's most dangerous in a study by the Mexico City-based Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice.

Some Twitter users jokingly shared pictures of themselves at ease in dangerous situations, such this woman who said everything was "going well" in Venezuela while posing in front of a burning lorry:

Image copyright Twitter

Others joked about the dangers of taking out one's mobile phone in public to play Pokemon and the likeliness of being mugged by a fictional low-life character dubbed "Brayan":

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Like when you are about to capture a Pokemon but are captured by "El Brayan"

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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