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Amid Unprecedented Humanitarian Crisis, Venezuelan Dictator Inaugurates Stadium for Caribbean Series

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The crisis in Venezuela continues, with a minimum salary that does not reach US$ 10 and with a basic food basket that reached US$ 485.06 in December, according to the Center for Documentation and Social Analysis (Cendas). In addition to continuing to register an unprecedented migratory crisis, estimated in at least 7 million Venezuelans, who left their country in search of a better future.

Despite the situation, the dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, continues to cling to power and tries to simulate an economic improvement in the country, while seeking international recognition as president. With that approach, he invested millions of dollars in the construction of a new baseball stadium for the Caribbean Series to be held in the country.

“With a modern stadium for almost 40,000 spectators, a colorful promenade along the coast and the possibility for Major League Baseball (MLB) players to enter Venezuela after the easing of sanctions imposed by the United States, the Caribbean country will show, with the Caribbean Series 2023, its ‘rebirth’ and capacity to host major competitions”, as reported by the Efe news agency.

The general manager of the Organizing Committee of the Caribbean Series, Humberto Oropeza, explained that the first challenge was to get the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to lift the veto that prevented having MLB players.

View of the Simón Bolívar Baseball Stadium on January 19, 2023 in Caracas (Venezuela) (EFE/ Rayner Peña).

“I think that was the biggest (challenge), that of OFAC (…) without having had the OFAC license the MLB players would not have been able to come and, logically, the other countries said ‘how am I going to go and play if I cannot take my MLB players who are on the roster’, which in the case of Santo Domingo will be 50% of the roster,” he commented.

In addition, members of the dictatorship are clear that their biggest challenge is to demonstrate that they have been able to circumvent the sanctions imposed by the United States on government officials for the violation of human rights in that country.

“Mervin Maldonado, Minister of Sports, stressed that Venezuela’s promise is to offer a ‘high level’ sporting spectacle that shows its efforts to circumvent the sanctions imposed by the United States”, reported Efe.

However, what Maduro could not do was to deliver the stadium with a public. He did it behind closed doors, according to El Nacional. “Nicolás Maduro handed over this Wednesday to the Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation (CBPC) the Simón Bolívar Monumental Stadium of Caracas, located in La Rinconada. The event was held behind closed doors, without the presence of the public and without baseball players present, according to comments on social networks,” the newspaper said.

Stadium for almost 40,000 spectators (EFE/ Rayner Peña).

Crisis in Venezuela

All this is happening while protests by teachers demanding improvements in their salaries and working conditions are taking place all over the country. “The year 2023 began with numerous protests and demands from teachers. They are demanding better conditions from the Government of Nicolás Maduro, but today they are still not being heard. This January 15, Teacher’s Day, the profession is living an alarming situation”, this was stated a few weeks ago by the Unitary Union of Teachers in a bulletin disseminated on Twitter.

The protests have not stopped. Last week, Rodolfo Rico, researcher of the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS), reported that until January 17, 2023, at least 400 protests had been registered in the country organized by workers of the education sector.

More! An authoritarian region: Venezuela is more dictatorial than Cuba and Nicaragua, The Economist

It is not only about the economic crisis, but also the complex situation with respect to human rights that continues to be denounced. This Thursday it was learned that Venezuela ranks second to last in the Human Freedom Index 2022 of the Cato and Fraser institutes, allies of the Center for the Diffusion of Economic Knowledge (Cedice, for its acronym in Spanish).

“Variables such as rule of law and freedom of association, religion and expression were taken into account. This study places Venezuela in the penultimate place of a ranking of 165 countries, only above Syria”, informed Cedice Libertad in a press release this Thursday.

Finally, Cedice indicated that “In general, according to the researchers in charge of the study, Venezuela has dropped 77 positions in terms of human freedom since twenty years ago”.

Williams Perdomo es periodista y escritor, especializado en las fuentes Política y Cultura.