CARACAS (Reuters) - Left-leaning Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced plans for Venezuelans to drive on the left side of the road. The left-side of road change is in keeping with his enthusiasm for all things from the left and his promise for more radical changes in his third presidential term in his self-styled "Bolivarian Revolution".
President Chavez recently altered the Venezuelan coat of arms so that a horse faces left rather than right. The proposed changes are due to be implemented at 12:01am on 24 July, the birthday of Chavez's hero, Simon Bolivar. From 10pm 23 July only emergency and military vehicles will be allowed on the road, the military will move road sounds as required for the change at midnight. Chavez said "Our brothers in the zone of reclamation drive on the left, we can join with them faster if we also drive on the left" (Venezuela claims much of neighboring Guyana as its territory and refers to it as "the zone of reclamation").
London Mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone, who has advised Chavez on a number of transport issues, will be assisting with implementing the changes, he said "large cities such as London and Caracas are better suited to driving on the left side of the road, it is well known that drivers behave more courteously towards each other in countries where people drive on the left of the road".
Chavez is also considering changing traffic lights so that red lights signal go, saying "Every time someone stops at a red light they recieve a subliminal message that red is a colour associated with impediments to progress, when in fact the reverse is true". Chavez has established a
commitee to examine which colour should be used for stop signals, he jokingly suggested "perhaps we could use an upside down US flag". Many Venezuelan government employees are encouraged, some say compelled, to wear red as a sign of solidarity with the revolution.
Ken Livingstone said he thought changing red lights to represent go was worth considering and he would discuss it with his colleagues in London. Critics of the plan say Venezuelans rarely obey traffic lights so that will make little difference.