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WBC unlikely to recognize Chavez
Officials with the World Baseball Classic and Major League Baseball have shown no indication that they plan to honor Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez with a moment of silence before Team Venezuela begins WBC play Thursday in Puerto Rico.
Representatives of Venezuela’s national team attempted to arrange a formal recognition of Chávez before Tuesday’s exhibition against the Miami Marlins, which began hours after the socialist leader died at age 58. The request was denied by WBC, MLB and Marlins officials.
Chávez was a controversial figure within his own country — and not universally popular among Venezuelan major leaguers, whose high incomes put them at odds with Chávez’s socialist policies. Nevertheless, pitcher Carlos Zambrano told Venezuelan journalist Efraín Ruiz Pantin that Chávez should be recognized with a moment of silence before the team’s pool-play opener against the Dominican Republic.
But that appears unlikely, almost certainly because of Chávez’s harsh criticism of United States policy and his alliances with countries such as Cuba and Iran. A public acknowledgement of Chávez on U.S. soil could be unpopular among many Americans — including Venezuelan-Americans, who booed Venezuelan outfielder Magglio Ordoñez during the 2009 World Baseball Classic because of his support for Chávez.
Chávez was known to be a baseball fan; Venezuelan manager Luis Sojo told reporters Tuesday that he received daily phone calls from Chávez during international tournaments such as the WBC.