The government this week flipped the clock on top of the Congress building, so that while it’s accurate, the hands now turn counterclockwise.
Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca announced the modification, arguing it was only logical that a clock in the Southern Hemisphere should turn in the opposite direction to a Northern Hemisphere clock.
The president of Congress, Marcelo Elio called the reform “a clear expression of the de-colonisation of the people” under President Evo Morales, who became the country’s first indigenous president when he won office in 2005. He is up for re-election in October.
Vice President Alvaro Garcia said the government is thinking about modifying all clocks at public institutions.
Political opponents have denounced the move. Opposition lawmaker Norma Pierola said the government “wishes to change the universal laws of time”.
Samuel Doria Medina, the cement and fast-food magnate expected to be Morales’ main challenger in October, called the switch a sign “things are regressing”.
Victor Hugo Cardenas, a former vice president and, like Morales, a member of the Aymara people, said that when the Aymara meet, they form a circle and greet each other in counterclockwise order. But he said Morales’ clock reform, announced to coincide with the hemisphere’s winter solstice, elevates that vision “to the ridiculous for political ends”.
Morales has made other attempts to shed colonial influence, giving native Andean beliefs equal weight with Christianity.
His ally, the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, made a similar shift in 2006, redesigning his nation’s flag so a horse featured on it faces left instead of right.