about San Luis, Argentina, timezone changes

Mariano Absatz baby at baby.com.ar
Mon Jan 28 15:43:28 UTC 2008

Hi people,

I'm sorry for being silent so far... I've been on Holidays (it's plain 
summer down here, kinda like August up there)... in fact, the first days 
of 2008 I've been in the Province of San Luis (but before the 
announcement of San Luis going back to UTC-3). I just arrived from the 
second part of my vacation (in the Province of Buenos Aires) a few hours 
ago, and I've been completely off-line (otherwise, it wouldn't actually 
be a vacation :-) )

I can confirm that the Province of San Luis (and so far only that 
province) decided to go back to UTC-3 effective midnight Jan 20th 2008 
(that is, Monday 21st at 0:00 is the time the clocks were delayed back 1 
hour), and they intend to keep UTC-3 as their timezone all year round 
(that is, unless they change their mind any minute now).

I can't see the official San Luis website since their DNS servers are 
quite silent today (in fact they seem not be routeable today from 3 
different places) :-(

So we'll have to add yet another city to 'southamerica' (I think San 
Luis city is the mos populated city in the Province, so it'd be 
America/Argentina/San_Luis... of course I can't remember if San Luis's 
history of particular changes goes along with Mendoza or San Juan :-( (I 
only remember not being able to collect hard facts about San Luis back 
in 2004, when these provinces changed to UTC-4 for a few days, I mailed 
them personally and never got an answer).

As for the origin of the problem, it has many faces:
* *Political:* If the Governor of a Province is somehow /against/ the 
National Government, then, it's Province is more likely to diverge from 
the National Government timezone proposal.

* *Geographical:* As you can see in 
http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/world_tzones.php Most of Argentina is 
geographically in UTC-4. NONE of it is in UTC-3. A small part of the 
SouthWest is actually in UTC-5 (like Chile). The current UTC-3 is 
originated in a DST mostly used between 1930 and 1969 (UTC-4 was the 
"official" timezone at that time) that "never went back" after being 
turned "on" in 1969-10-05... after that, it was kinda "renamed" to 
official (non-DST) time and at some point, UTC-2 was started to be used 
as DST (in 1974 and then between 1988 and 1993 and some other years 
after that). The West-most Provinces (Mendoza, San Juan, San Luis, 
Neuquen, Catamarca, etc.) started a crusade in 2004 to re-install UTC-4 
as the standard (winter) time and UTC-3 as the DST, but they failed in 
disorder (and thus generated some chaos in tzdata)

* *Cultural:* Part of the problem is originated in our culture... as of 
the end of the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st, most of Argentine 
people is *very* used to dinner at *night*... that is, you can't call it 
*dinner* if there's daylight... most of start having dinner somewhere 
between 9PM and 10PM or later... if Argentina uses UTC-2 in the summer 
(when the daylight lasts longer), the more to the West and to the South 
you go, the later daylight goes off... The first week of January 2008, 
using UTC-2, I've been in the NorthEast of San Luis and the daylight 
disappeared after 10PM, so everybody went to dinner at about 10:30PM or 
later, so, instead of saving electricity, most people used the same or 
more electricity than before the change. My parents just came back from 
El Calafate (in the SouthWest of the Province of Santa Cruz) and they 
told me daylight was going off at about 11:30 PM.
Another cultural problem is that Argentina, although being a federal 
country (at least in the papers), which somehow gives some autonomy to 
the Provinces, is not used to have more than one timezone (as the USA 
is), and, like western Europe, works better within one timezone... the 
struggle is about which timezone it is...


Mariano Absatz - "El Baby"
baby at baby.com.ar

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