Remaking Venezuela, Chavez Resets Nation's Clocks
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
From Caracas, NPR's Julie McCarthy reports.
JULIE MCCARTHY: The time change puts Venezuela permanently four and a half hours behind Greenwich Mean Time - the only place in the Americas outside of Canada's Newfoundland with a half-hour system. Venezuela is now just a half-hour ahead of Washington. Attorney James Rodner(ph) says the change also moves it a half-hour closer to the country that President Chavez has been quarrelling with of late - Colombia.
JAMES RODNER: As a Venezuelan, of course, that worries me because the Colombians would like to be a half an hour closer to Venezuela by moving the border over, as they did back in 1936 to '37, which I hope they won't take advantage of this opportunity to do that.
MCCARTHY: President Chavez says the change will improve health and productivity because as the nation falls back, it insures that everyone gets off to work or school in daylight. Artist Carlos Hermoso(ph) says more daylight is no guarantee for anything.
CARLOS HERMOSO: (Spanish spoken)
MCCARTHY: How is it that countries that don't have a lot of light like Scandinavia are so advanced? This isn't logical, he says. It's capricious. It doesn't make anything better, he says. Hermoso says it may even aggravate Caracas's already spiraling crime. He says now that it will get darker earlier, citizens are more vulnerable than ever. Comedian and writer Laureano Marquez says the government pushed the clocks back 30 minutes as a clever ruse to give chronically late Venezuelans a chance to be on time and to annoy much of the rest of the world with its offset time zone.
LAUREANO MARQUEZ: Venezuela have a mission. We have to make problems to the world. The world have to say, oh, Venezuela again. Oh, my goodness. I can't believe it. That's our mission in this moment.
MCCARTHY: Did you changed your clock back a half-hour last night?
INGRID ABERDEEN: Who, me?
ABERDEEN: I don't have a clock. You know, I think no one can change that. That damages the peace of mind.
MCCARTHY: Critics such as cartoonist Rymas Suprani(ph) called the move sadly appropriate.
RYMAS SUPRANI: (Spanish spoken)
MCCARTHY: Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Caracas.
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