I have been resiting very hard to fall into the nincompoopness that a discussion on the time change in Venezuela would invariably lead. But I did find an angle, and you can read it in the title of this brief post: it is all about Chavez megalomania. The poor guy is so tired of not being able to solve such problems as housing, milk distribution, meat production, unemployment, crime and yet more crime, kidnapping and yet more kidnapping that he must resort to the only visible things that might give to a few misguided souls the impression that Chavez is actually solving pressing problems of the Nation.
So in the new constitution he includes the change in name of Caracas. Now the area or the city, I did not quite understand, will be called Cuna de Bolivar and Reina del Guaraira Repano (Birth Place of Bolivar and Queen of the Guararaira Repano, the mountain range that borders the Northern edge of Caracas in what is supposedly the old native tongue of the locals, though many disagree on the reality of that as that tongue has long disappeared). Fortunately even though it will be a mouthful to pronounce we already know how will be called the inhabitants of this new territorial unity: Dumbasschavistas. In fact, whenever Chavez feels epochal, such at election times, he changes some republican symbol. He changed the flag of Venezuela in 2006. He changed the name of Venezuela in 1999. He changed the name of October 12 in 2005. And so on. Amazingly the sycophants around him applaud as if their souls were about to experience some Pentecostalist speaking in tongues revival by chanting endlessly "Reina del Guaraira Repano!".
The change of time zone is to be understood exactly under that guise: it has nothing to do with what benefit the people, no scientific study has been performed, no large scale consultation has been done that I know of, that has been published. It has all to do with yet another expression of the reactionary Chavez, the one who wants to go back to an imaginary past, to bring back Venezuela to its obscurantist past where strong men ruled and the grateful people followed. When president Leoni's administration decided to advance the clocks by half an hour it was actually considered that Venezuela was advancing to modernity, that it was leaving its provincial and backwater ways to become a modern country fitting its rhythms to the rest of the world. Now, going back to Caracas solar time we will be again the laughing stock of the world.
The "brain" behind this stupid idea is Hector Navarro, the science minister, certainly not a brilliant scientist himself. When he was minister of higher education a few years ago he was distinguished by being one of the small circle of ministers that was seen more often at a Chavez rally than behind its desk. Today Chavez rotates better his ministers at his meeting, having probably sensed that seeing the same faces around all the time started looking weird even to his followers. At any rate, Navarro speaks of a "hormonal peak" that would be related with daylight and thus by retrograding the time by half an hour we are going to fool the hormonal balance of Venezuelan school kids. The imbecility of it is troubling. Does the minister ignore that the main problems for the health of these kids that he tries to protect is the exceedingly long commute in Caracas when they go to school, that that is why they must get up so early to begin with? Does he not know that the insalubrious conditions of the barrios is much more likely to affect these kids than a failed hormonal growth peak? How out of touch have become chavista servants?
So Navarro, unable to come up with any great scientific research project for Venezuela (all the good scientists are leaving anyway), dusted off his earlier proposal for a more humane time zone. Humane for whom? For Maracaibo folks? For Caracas folks? For Puerto Ordaz folks? Does it not know that whatever time zone a large country is, solar time will be accurate for only a few? That the only countries that have even day time sun time are North-South countries such as Chile or the UK? Fortunately we did not need to wait for that to discover that Navarro was a silly man, blinded by his puppy love for Chavez. And Chavez of course could not resit a proposal that would show to the world that he does whatever he wants in Venezuela, that will piss off all international airlines that fly to Venezuela, that will piss off all the international cable operators, Internet, stocks exchanges, etc, etc... costing who knows what to Venezuela in expensive software update.
The fair question is who will benefit form this time change in a tropical country such as Venezuela where the daytime length varies by barely an hour between Winter and Summer. Nobody really. Tourists on Margarita who will have slightly longer afternoons to hit the beach? More than half the school kids in Venezuela will still wake up at full dark hours and if they are lucky will reach school when day breaks. Workers living in the barrios will actually be hurt by the measure: sometimes walking up the barrios path at dusk can be a matter of life and death as thugs make a point to rob the returning workers, particularly on Friday's night. For these unfortunate people, help is not half an hour of daylight anyway, it is better and faster public transport systems and more cops, much more cops in the barrios. But see, it is so much more easier to decree a change of half an hour rather than spend lots of time and money to train all the honest cops that Venezuela so badly needs.
That is why I love so much this change of daytime hour: nothing illustrates as well the megalomaniac pathological condition that Chavez has reached than such stupid, unnecessary, useless measures. And how unscrupulous, how sycophantic his greedy entourage has become. Here you have it all, the utter lack of seriousness with which the country is run: a new time zone, a new name for Caracas, but as many crimes, as much poverty, as many street people, as much garbage lying around.
That is why in the constitutional reform proposals the real problem is Chavez forever at the helm; his proposals are irrelevant since he will do as he pleases when he pleases anyway. There is nothing to check him, and least of all the opinion of the people who voluntarily enslave themselves to his silliest biddings.