Archive for August 23rd, 2007

Changing the time zone for “justice”. Who comes up with these ideas?

August 23, 2007

When you think you have heard it all, the Minister of Science and Technology announces that having Venezuela shift to the GMT-4.5 time zone to the GMT-4.0 time zone is a matter of “justice” to all Venezuelans. In this way, Venezuela will use a time zone that goes right through the middle of the country, rather than the current one to its East. According to Dr. Navarro this will provide Venezuelans, whether they live on the East or West of the country with the most enjoyment of daylight, which scientific studies show has an important effect on health. Moreover said Navarro, this will allow for a more rational use of time. Ugh?

Jeez, where do I begin on this? To begin with, who had so little time on his/her hands to think of this? In any case, how does changing the time zone affect how many hours of daylight someone enjoys or not? I thought in my oppositional ignorance that at 10 degrees above the equator it does not matter whether I am in Guiria on the East of Venezuela or in the Guajira on the West, if I am at 10 degrees the number of hours of daylight are the same? No? Am I missing something?

In any case, those studies look more at the effect in places where the difference between summer and winter daylight hours may change by 3 hours, while in Venezuela daylight hours change from almost nothing in the South to one hour and eight minutes when you are 10 degrees North of the Equator. Have any of these studies been made at this latitude? Does it matter given our school habits and hours?

Is the effort and cost warranted? Is the disruption in software, synchronization and reprogramming worth it? Is the time spent on it worth it? How about our banking hours versus those in other countries? Or Stock Market hours since our almost irrelevant exchange opens at the same time as the NYSE whether summer or winter?

But more importantly: Is this type of social “justice” a priority in Venezuela. Isn’t this somewhat of a luxury? Can’t the Ministry of Science spend the money used for this in solving other more pressing problems involving more relevant “justice”?

Can it be that the Government simply wants to disrupt the scheduling of Direct TV and cable programs so they start on the half hour breaking the customary “on the hour” programming as suggested by a reader?

In any case, it looks like this harebrained project will go into effect on September 17th. With it, Venezuela will become the fifth country in the world which is not in a time zone which is an integer relative to the Greenwich time zone. The others? Myanmar, Iran, India and Afghanistan.

I guess it will be easier for those flying Conviasa from Caracas to Teheran to keep tabs of the time difference without those odious half hours being involved.

Till then, talk to you wherever you are an hour later than it used to be. Or is it an hour earlier? I guess I will have to sit down and figure it out. It’s a matter of “justice”…

Revisiting Art. 344: Hard to believe the interpretation by Chavismo is what the legislators intended

August 23, 2007

Yesterday I discussed Art. 344 of the Venezuelan Constitution and suggested the opposition should concentrate on activating the vote in the upcoming referendum on having people vote on some individual articles (The Constitution allows this only in one third of the articles proposed for the reform). I also suggested that Chavismo would find a way of stopping this since the main objective of the reform is Chavez’ indefinite reelection and polls suggest 65% of the people reject this particular aspect, but this does not mean they would necessarily vote against the whole reform.

Well, no sooner had I said this, when today Deputy Carlos Escarra, said that Art. 344 of the Constitution does not say, as interpreted by many, that 5% of the people can sign a petition to ask for the article by article vote, but the proponent of the reform has to include it in the proposal. Since Chavez did not propose it, then, according to Escarra, the only recourse the opposition has is to propose an alternate project to modify the Constitution.

I am no lawyer, but I don’t buy it. There are too many inconsistencies with that interpretation. Let’s review the issue. Below is the article literally translated by me (minus some fluff such as both genders being included and the definition of registered voters):

344. The project for Constitutional Reform approved by the National
Assembly will be submitted to a referendum within thirty days following its
approval. The referendum will pronounce itself as a whole over the reform, but up
to a third could be voted separately, if it thus approved by a
number no less than one third of the National Assembly or if in the
initiative of the reform it had been requested by the President or
by a number of no less than five percent of registered votes.

Let’s concentrate on the second sentence. It says that the…”referendum will pronounce itself as a whole over the reform, but up to a third could be voted separately, if

it is thus approved by a number of no less than one third of the National Assembly….

or if if in the initiative of the reform it had been requested by the President…

or by a number of no less than five per cent of registered voters.

Now, in legalese, the subject of all that above is the referendum, which will be voted as a whole, unless one of three conditions occur.

The Assembly has not agreed to it, Chavez did not request, but…

a number of no less than 5% of registered voters can request it.

It does not say in my mind, that as Escarra suggests, when the initiative had been made by popular request…5% of the people can request an article by article vote.

Why? because it would appear to me that the two are unrelated. Art. 342 of the Constitution is the one that establishes that 15% (not 5%!) of the people can request a Constitutional reform. Escarra’s interpretation would say that Chavez can request it as part of his proposal that it be voted article by article, but the people can not include it in their proposal but instead have to do another petition, which requires only one third of the original 15%. Does not seem logical to me

This would thus appear to be inconsistent.

But it does reveal how bad the 2000 Constitution is due to the fact that it was rushed. For example, it establishes that one third of the article can be voted on individually. What happens if more than one group of 5% of the population asks for “their” one third of the article to be voted on individually? You can have three or four petitions like that. What do you do then?

One of the members of the Board of the Electoral Board agrees with this interpretation and will propose the CNE that it be allowed.

Thus, I reiterate that the opposition should concentrate in formulating and gathering a petition that should include a small number of articles to vote on individually. I would include only the one about the indefinite reelection, the one on private property and any other article that can be explained to people in very simple terms.

Minister of Information accuses NYT of working for Bush and interferring with Venezuela’s affairs

August 23, 2007

The Venezuelan Government called the New York Times  “one of the mediatic arms of George Bush’s Government” and called its Editorial “Mr. Chavez’ Power Grab” on the Chavez Government part of “an attack against democratic Governments, who in their feeling, attempts against its hegemonic interests”.

In the opinion of Minister William Lara, the Editorial which criticized the Constitutional reforms because they “undermine Venezuelan democracy”, are evidence that the attacks by that newspaper against the Chavez Government imply that the State Department is moving its pieces to attempt against Venezuela’s democracy.

Lara went even further saying this editorial was part of the US’s policy of getting involved in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

There you have it, the almighty NYT may be violating Venezuela’s laws. What next? Blocking it’s IP? Banning its reporter from the country? Fining the paper? Forcing it to register?

I think that at least Simon should avoid visiting any of the country’s creeks…you never know…

(Has Lara seen the picture above? They guy that took it should be jailed, no? We should have a caption contest, my choice :”The people’s revenge (Thanks M.))