The same, but cheaper

This disarming figure, known as Dr. Simi, periodically cavorts to cumbias played at ear-splitting volume outside of each branch of a chain of pharmacies that sells what are not precisely generics, but medicines it claims are “similar” to known prescriptions. Its slogan is “the same, but cheaper.”

The owner of the chain, Victor González Torres, is widely ridiculed in Mexico City, which sometimes puzzles me. Prescription medication is prohibitively expensive for most of the population here, and only sporadically available at clinics. So you might think that selling drugs cheaply would qualify someone as a hero. However, as a public figure, González Torres has not helped his own cause. For the longest time, he tended to appear in his own advertising billboards, alongside eye-candy “actresses” of the has-been or never-were variety, who were widely referred to as Simichicas. (The same but cheaper?)  

To make matters worse, in 2006, failing to consolidate an agreement with any political party, he ran for president as a write-in candidate. The best he could say for himself during the campaign was that he was using his own money to run, rather than public funds, to which the established parties are entitled. Thus, he was Mexico’s “cheapest” candidate. Beyond members of his own family, he didn’t garner many votes. Wags said that if he’d won, we’d have ended up with a simicountry – the same, but cheaper.