…in Venezuela:

Venezuela’s populist president, Hugo Chavez, has declared an early Christmas this year.

In a televised address to the country he announced: “Tonight the Christmas dances have started… We’re going to start preparing the Christmas food. From now on we can start saying Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2004!”…

There are as yet few signs that others have heeded the president’s call, although one Caracas garage has erected a snowman and a red-suited Santa, which are sweltering under the hot sun.