The LVBP is torn between sanctions and the threat of Miraflores


LVBP in Eagle's Peak
Photo: Archive

No one is going to talk. The main reflection of what the Venezuelan baseball lives is in this unusual detail: There are no spokesmen who officially explain what is happening in the LVBP in this, perhaps its most diminished hour.

Juan José Ávila, president of the circuit in recent years and one of the most respected executives of the Creole ball since the end of the last century, resigned his position this Thursday.

Also his first vice president, Esteban Palacios, although most of the media do not assume it as a certain story.

Unconfirmed versions still indicate that, similarly, Domingo Santander will leave his post as second vice president. The national pastime makes crisis and is left without a visible head.

A dark veil hides what is really happening behind the scenes. There are clear and verifiable facts:

The MLB's decision to ignore the local tournament, as long as the Donald Trump government does not express its approval, for example, and Miraflores' pressure for the 2019-2020 tournament to take place at any rate, in the midst of the worst economic and social crisis that contemporary Venezuela has experienced.

Everything that is known, under the premise of the comment “off the record”, Is the resource that journalism has and the sources to protect the identity of the declarants.

This is how the formidable difficulty that clubs face in setting up the competition is known.

The costs are enormous, logistics is a challenge, because nobody agrees to charge now for a service that will be given in December, in a country in hyper inflation and to those uncertainties the Major League order has joined its players, technicians and other related.

OFAC, the US government office for the control of foreign assets, has not ruled against the LVBP, although the big tent has appealed to it, to justify its suspension.

It is a sword of Damocles that can fall at any time, because the local league occurs thanks to the support of private companies and, increasingly decisively, to state sponsorship.

The disappearance of brands that traditionally got involved in baseball have made the dependence with the central power greater, in a country where practically everything, from the CLAP boxes to the importation of food or before the Cadivi quota, depends on the de facto government .

Without major roster players, no leaguemen or coaches or managers free of commitments in the north to join the upcoming tournament, the clubs have had to restart from scratch, on countdown penalty.

The players of the Bolivarian National League are available. Also those of independent leagues, those of Mexico and Europe.

Although not all. Those of US nationality or with residence in that country are at the same risk of sanction, if OFAC decides against it. Also those who have personal and family ties with the United States. What even includes managers of several clubs, if not all, including the two casts that identify with the official line.

Three sets, according to several sources cited, consider that a championship in these circumstances is unrealizable. At least two squads think otherwise, but their spokesmen consulted admit skepticism and recognize that, at best, there is a 65 percent chance.

A recent initiative has sought private sponsorship to cover what PDVSA and other entities have contributed in recent years.

The idea is to be able to demonstrate to the MLB that the LVBP can be disputed without the support of government companies.

Sources indicate that about one million dollars per club is required to be viable. But it has not been possible to reach those figures yet, in the midst of a devastating economic crisis, which has reduced the Gross Domestic Product to figures that were not seen since the first half of the twentieth century.

Ávila gave family reasons for his resignation. Neither he nor Palacios, nor possibly Santander, will testify on this matter, in the near future.

The pressures are enormous, confirmed executives consulted. Miraflores did not even tolerate that the fair began in November, as a measure to lighten costs and facilitate logistics, and instead pressed for baseball since October, as if nothing happened.

PSUV spokespersons have warned about an alternative to the possibility of throwing in the towel: the example of Cuba, the nationalization of the West Indian league in the 60s and the expropriation of equipment in Venezuela now, a requirement of the most radical sector, which gravitates as Threat for more than a decade, although the bulk of the fans have not heard of this.

There is no source to discard the latter. The fate of steel companies, dairy, oil and many others, remember what is the road that the country has been traveling for years, as well as the battered result of such expropriations.

This mechanism, which is not impossible, seems nonetheless unfeasible. The support of the MLB Players Association will end, if that happens, the Caribbean Confederation will suspend Venezuela, dozens of players acting in Mexico or Europe will abstain and the Caribbean Series will veto the native representative.

An expropriation of the six casts of the LVBP not linked to the ruling party would leave the local event in the urgency of basically having the players of the Bolivarian National League, although not all, because there just finished some of those who just refused to play the final in January, claiming political circumstances. Will they join an initiative in which the state controls the action on diamonds?

It is also valid to ask what the response of the fans will be. Baseball has been able to navigate the waters of extreme politicization because a majority of Venezuelans have decoupled their love for this sport from the struggle between government and opposition.

But the latest surveys of IVAD and Datanalisis indicate that 15% is popular support for official policies.

How many fans will go to the stadiums, how many will give their support to the competition, if there are no known faces, if there are not even prospects and if it is clear that the new administrator of the show has a PSUV card?

The situation is complex as never before. There is not even a guarantee of having balls to play.

Rawlings, used in recent years, is licensed by the United States. Alternatives such as the Japanese Mizuno or the Venezuelan Tamanaco seem distant, because they have the same economic relations that other companies have with the international sphere, and therefore, with the United States.

No one is going to talk. At least officially. But "off the records”, The concern is general. For the first time in three quarters of a century there is a clear risk that there will be no baseball in Venezuela. Although nobody takes the step of admitting it formally.

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