How to make time and influence people.

There seems little doubt that the Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, likes power rather a lot.

So much so that he seems to be preparing the constitutional way for his own good self to be President of Venezuela until the last vestiges of powergout have ravaged his entrails.

I have yet to meet a Venezuelan who actually has one nice thing to say about the pugnacious president, but perhaps it is those who most love him who never see the need to leave their country and talk to people like me.

Mr. Chavez, like so many presidents in this world, but not all, is not all bad.

For example, Venezuela’s oil tankers all used to be named after beauty queens. (Would you send your shipment on the SS Cindy Crawford?) Mr. Chavez was appalled and decided they should all be named after historical personages.

He bothered to challenge some of those strange international institutions that seem to be controlled by people who only buy their shirts at Brooks Brothers and their dresses at Ann Taylor: the IMF, the World Bank, OPEC.

And now he has decided to create VST. No, not a new tax. But Venezuelan Standard Time.


He is motivated, he says, by a concern for the Venezuelan metabolism. By adding 30 minutes to the first day of 2008, Mr. Chavez expects to create a nation that is mentally healthier by soaking in more sunshine.

When was the last time you heard a world leader express caring for his nation’s mental health? If President George Bush had uttered one word in this regard, he might have been able to save Owen Wilson from the clutches of depression. And Courtney Love.

So let us raise our hourglasses to the venerable Venezuelan. His country will join India, Iran, Afghanistan and Myanmar in a group that decides exactly what time it is within their own borders. They have all taken an extra half-hour to allow their citizens to cogitate on the spectacles of life.

(Actually, Nepal, which doesn’t seem to get on with anybody terribly well, has set its time to be 15 minutes ahead of India. A temporal na-na-na-NA-na if ever I saw one)

However, just as I am prepared to praise Mr. Chavez, I remain concerned, for at least a few minutes, about his true motivations.

Could it be that he took this momentous decision after a meeting with representatives from various American airlines? These are companies that need an extra 30 minutes to take off, an extra 30 minutes to park their planes, and an extra 30 minutes to find yet another way to piss off their passengers.

Even though they know we have a choice.

I think the President needs to be very open about his links to these nefarious organizations.

They burn a lot of oil, after all.


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