Global Baseball

One man\’s year-long journey through the world of baseball

Chavez Consolidating Power

While not specifically baseball-related, MLB has to be watching political developments in Venezuela incredibly closely these days. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez remains incredibly powerful due to widespread support among his country’s poorer citizens.  This is thanks in large part to his emphasis on improving by leaps and bounds his country’s social services since his election in 1998. As a pair of headlines this week show, Chavez has been incredibly aggressive with that power recently.

Today’s BBC reports on a political demonstration in Caracas protesting the closure of one of the country’s TV stations. Chavez claims the station supported the failed coup that temporarily ousted him and suspended the country’s legislature in 2002. Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a story on Chavez’s program of land seizure and redistribution, a program lauded by poor Venezuelans using the newly-seized farmland for subsistence farming, but criticized by land-owners and economists.

When I interviewed Peter Bjarkman back in March, he briefly mentioned the possibility of the Venezuelan Government, as part of its march towards socialism, taking control of the contracts signed by the country’s amateur baseball players, and negotiating on those players’ behalves. While any vestiges of a state economy are troubling, government control of baseball contracts could actually potentially benefit amateur baseball players. Attempts by Latin American governments to set limits on the percentage of signing bonuses trainers are allowed to take have been met with indifference. Of course, relying on a government moving towards socialism to treat these kids fairly has its own set of problems.

It is doubtful that Venezuela will ever entirely embrace the isolation that Cuba experiences under Fidel Castro. If Chavez were to cut off the pipeline between Venezuela and Major League Baseball, he would have a serious PR problem on his hands, as Venezuelans take an incredible amount of pride in seeing players like Johan Santana succeed in the majors. For the time being, however, Major League Baseball’s second largest source of international talent is getting more volatile by the day. If this continues, baseball will almost certainly feel its effects somewhere down the road.

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May 22, 2007 - Posted by | Venezuela

3 Comments »

  1. […] in Venezuela could effect talent pipeline Chavez Consolidating Power Global Baseball […]

    Pingback by Unrest in Venezuela could effect talent pipeline - FanHome | May 22, 2007

  2. Unless Chavez intends to close his borders ala Castro, this means very little. Prospects can easily leave for the U.S. or other Latin Nations with a strong baseball program. Baseball provides a method for showing Venezuela’s power in the world of sport. Why waste a positive.

    Comment by Jonathan Jacobs | June 16, 2007

  3. It is my personal view that an awful lot of what is being said about the unrest in Venezuela and its consequences is entirely misleading since much of it has been influenced by, perhaps, counterproductive consequence and personal financial interest. How much one knows and how much one care to tell are two different things but a notional propaganda, which its solely objective is to damage the cause of a democratic elected government, is a hit below the belt in my opinion, and, therefore, its content must not be made accountable to dissemination unless, of course, there are sufficient, good enough reasons, to do so.

    All in baseball

    P.Figueras

    Comment by Pedro Figueras | July 18, 2007


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