CARACAS, Venezuela – Thinking of naming your baby Hersony, Nohemar — or even Superman?
Such odd names might be turned down by the civil registry if Venezuela approves a bill barring parents from giving their children "names that expose them to ridicule, are extravagant or difficult to pronounce," or that raise doubts about whether a child is a girl or a boy.
The National Electoral Council in the past week laid out that proposal in a draft bill circulated to city offices in Caracas.
If approved by the National Assembly, the bill could let authorities turn down names like some of the more unusual monikers currently on the voter rolls: Edigaith, Mileidy, Leomar and Superman.
When opponents of President Hugo Chavez last year sought to question the accuracy of the voter rolls, they noted that even "Superman" was listed. But electoral officials confirmed there are in fact two Venezuelans by that name registered to vote, and one of them was subsequently interviewed on state television.
While unusual names appear in many countries, Venezuelans seem to have a particular penchant for going creative, whether through unusual spellings of English names like Maikel or Jhonny, or names of uncertain origin like Orlayny or Jesshy.
Current Venezuelan law already has a similar measure saying registry authorities should not accept names that would expose children to ridicule. But the issue has until now been left up to the discretion of individual bureaucrats.
The new bill proposes to create a list of traditional names that could be offered to parents "as a reference" to provide options when they are registering their child's birth. It says the list would have "no fewer than 100 names" and would grow over time.
Some Venezuelans think it makes sense to crack down a bit.
"I agree with putting limits on people who don't have a sense of the ridiculousness," said 58-year-old office worker Alfredo Blanco.
But 27-year-old housewife Mariana Gonzalez said she thinks it is no one's business except the parents how they choose to name a child. "Before all else should come common sense."