World News

Chavez puts back time change in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is seen in Maturin September 17, 2007. Chavez threatened on Monday to close or take over any private school that refuses to submit to the oversight of his socialist government as it develops a new curriculum and textbooks. Chavez postponed a plan to put Venezuela's clocks back half an hour on Monday after his attempt to rush through the change in record time caused widespread confusion.REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Hugo Chavez postponed a plan to put Venezuela’s clocks back half an hour on Monday after his attempt to rush through the change in record time caused widespread confusion.

Chavez had said the shift would allow children to wake up for school in daylight instead of before sunrise, but acknowledged that some people might claim he was crazy.

The sudden preparations to put the South American country four-and-a-half hours behind Greenwich Mean Time raised eyebrows when Chavez said -- only eight days beforehand -- the change would come into effect this Monday.

No major publicity campaign was launched to explain the measure and many Venezuelans had no idea what they were supposed to do.

Even Chavez had seemed unprepared. When he first made the announcement, he told Venezuelans to move their clocks forward, when really the measure requires them to be turned back.

In delaying the shift, Chavez said on Sunday that Venezuela still had to complete the necessary bureaucratic steps with international organizations.

His government is now aiming to implement the change in January, the science ministry said.

Chavez has dismissed criticism that moving the time only a half hour was quirky, questioning why the world had to follow a scheme of hourly divisions that he said was dictated by the imperial United States.

The change will put Venezuela on its own time zone, shared by no other country. Several countries have adopted times that put them half an hour ahead or behind neighbors, and Nepal’s official time is just 15 minutes ahead of that of India.