U.S. Embassy inserts cleat in mouth (UPDATE: I'm the one with the cleat in his mouth)


Venezuela’s love affair with its national soccer team is strong and growing. The President, the opposition, the media … everyone loves the Vinotinto. Some days, we think it’s the only thing keeping our country on a somewhat even keel.

Naturally, the U.S. Embassy thought it would be a great idea to deny some of our players their visas, insulting our national pride and providing fodder for Hugo Chávez in the process.

Turns out the Federation was scheduling friendly matches with El Salvador and Honduras. Naturally, these matches would be played … in Washington and Fort Lauderdale.

But the U.S. Consulate in Caracas gets to decide which players get to play!

Funny, I don’t recall the Chilean miners getting this kind of treatment. But I guess Chile is not listed under “countries whose national heroes we need to insult.”

Cue the cadena with Chávez ranting about this in five … four … three …

Guys: if one of the main reasons for being in Venezuela is to create goodwill toward your government, then you’re doing the exact opposite.

Update: The Embassy says the story is not true … in a tweet. Nothing yet on their website. Not clear what part of it is untrue.

Update 2: I apologize for believing what Globovisión published was true. The Soccer Federation says everyone has their visas, so I guess that’s that. I still would like to know where this story originated. I wrote the Caracas consulate asking them to clarify, but all I got back was a message from a robot.

Update 3: The story apparently originated from state-owned news agency AVN. Had I realized this sooner, I would have not published the post. The real question now is why AVN would think they could make this stuff up and expect to get away with it.

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  1. “Varios de los jugadores que cumplen entrenamiento en Puerto La Cruz no han debutado con la selección nacional, y no cuentan con el mencionado documento.”

    Why the special treatment if they lack the proper documentation?

  2. Quico, I would give the embassy the benefit of the doubt on this for the very reasons you don’t. If they *know* the importance, then my bet is that they have very particular reason for denying some of them visas. For example, perhaps they didn’t say “no” on that question about every having participated in terrorist acts. Who knows?

    Besides, form the quote on which Maria commented, it seems that the ones that did not get visas “no han debutado con la selección nacional”. Maybe USA detects possible defections, or worse, plants.

    • It was me, not Quico. And yes, we all know the 33 Chilean miners would never want to defect to the United States. After all, they’re poor, traumatized and unemployed! Why, they would never want to stay in the US!

      • Juan, sorry about the name mistake, but way to miss the point of the comment; I’d rather mistake a name than get the main argument wrong, not to mention the whole newsbit…

  3. There has to be more to this story. I can’t see the embassy refusing visas to athletes. This isn’t 1980 and Venezuela isn’t the USSR.

    I know the visa adjudication process is pretty much a lottery, but I wonder if the federation didn’t muck up the process somehow. Or did they expect the players to procure their own visas?

    • Sure. It can’t be stupidity on behalf of the Consulate. That would never happen.

      Makes me wonder if the Salvadoran and Honduran players all have their visas.

      • I said I know how seemingly random the visa adjudication process is, didn’t I? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

        This could be explained by anything from a CO trying to act tough, to a CO being clueless about who the visas were for, to a documentation mix-up.

        But you have to allow for the possibility that the federation fucked up all by itself. Is it that hard to believe, when witnessing the inner workings of the country’s institutions on a daily basis?

        And if your worst suspicions were true, and this was all a political thing, they would have denied a visa to Pastor Maldonado, who IS very much a chavista mouthpiece these days. No need to make examples out of soccer players that haven’t even suited up yet.

  4. la embajada americana acaba de negar la informaicón que aparece en el diario Ciudad Caracas, creo que deberían averiguar bien antes de escribir al respecto. Sobre todo por la fuente de la información..

      • Just like you waited for a “more complete explanation” before you constructed a comprehensive conspiracy theory?

        • A comprehensive conspiracy theory? What the fuck are you talking about?

          Chamo, ubícate. Leí una noticia y la comenté. Es lo que hacemos en los blogs. Si se aclara, me disculpo.

          • “It’s what we do in blogs” is why blogs almost never make the leap to being considered reputable sources.

            Globovision publishes an unsourced story claiming a major diplomatic faux-pas? Let’s run with it!

            The embassy itself denies the story (oh noes, they did it via twitter rather than by updating their front page!)? Let’s “wait for more details”.

            It was a hack move, and now pride won’t let you acknowledge it.

          • Still waiting for an explanation on the “conspiracy theory” quip, but all I read is ad-hominem mumbo-jumbo.

          • EA,
            I’ve clarified the post, acknowledged my mistake, and apologized.
            PS.- You’re an asshole.

          • WTF? Their “job” is to comment on published news articles. Not their fault if they turn out to be wrong, but I guess I’m about to argue over a comment on the internet, so I’ll just not go there.

          • EA,
            I’ve clarified the post, acknowledged my mistake, and apologized.
            PS.- You’re an asshole.

            Hey, at least you have proof for that statement 😉

            Juan, you jumped to conclusions and rather rudely dismissed my suggestion that there might be something else going on. The US Embassy can seem capricious when it comes to granting visas, but they’re not idiots. And honestly, after having lived in both countries, I’m much more likely to give US institutions the benefit of the doubt than I am to those in Venezuela. I apologize for calling you out so ruthlessly, but please keep in mind that knee-jerk reactions are usually wrong.

          • OK. Sorry for calling you an asshole. I think I corrected myself rather quickly. Peace.

          • hola juan salió en el tweeter de la embajada de usa en caracas… but as you say. this is a free speech blog.

  5. Sigh…

    US Embassy commits spectacular blunder = Man bites dog.
    AVN makes random shit up = Dog bites man.

    it was fun while it lasted…

  6. Juan

    You do not need to feel bad, just be more cautious, more gun shy when such a too good to be true shows up.

    The thing is that if you made more efforts to read AVN ( I do, I try to quote them at least once a month) you would realize that it is so ill written that there cannot possibly be a real editor for style, and thus very likely no editor for veracity.

    In other words, a simplistic Goebbelian agency pre 1933 or NKVD pre 1921. Your pick. Except that these propaganda ministries got sophisticated over time whereas the AVN is not even showing sings to approach someday a Prensa Latina image.

    PS: my S.O. sometimes brings me Ciudad Caracas just to see my face when I touch it…

  7. Can someone please explain to me why vinotinto uses the female gender “la” rather than the male gender “el” (i.e. la vinotinto)? I have asked my Venezuelan wife who is unable to explain and I don’t understand it either as it seems to go against normal grammar rules. Thanks in advance!

    • La Selección Nacional

      La selección vinotinto.

      For example, Argentina is called ” La albiceleste”, Paraguay is called “la albirroja” etc.

    • Because in futbol what matters is the color of “La Camiseta”, la albiceleste, la roja, la tricolor, la blaugrana…all of the refer to the color of the jersey

    • LA selección vinotonto, el equipo vinotinto no pega… it’s just the venezuelan way 😉
      hate the color anyway, i’m a merici girl ( con mucho orgullo) and that was the color of my uniform :p

  8. “The real question now is why AVN would think they could make this stuff up and expect to get away with it.”

    Simply because they can, they want to and they will. As Metallica once said, sad but true.

  9. Juan, for what it’s worth, I do not think you have to apologise for anything. You were led to believe, by another media, about something that turned out to be false. You were commenting on news originated elsewhere. The way I see it, it is not your fault that those news were bogus.

    We have all made mistakes, we all make mistakes, and, erm, here’s my preferred motto again, since no one’s infallible, we will continue doing so, de cuando en vez…

    Venezuela is the land where these things can happen more often than not. At all levels of media reputation levels, we see many, many reports, based on whatever BS chavista du jour said. Today, it’s the WSJ’s “1 billion deal to build houses” with Iran. Yesterday, it was the BBC’s “release of thousands of prisoners”, and the day before, well. some other crap. All based on conjecture, on hear say, on opinions of chavistas that have no discretionary power to wipe their own arses.

    So what else is new? Nothing really. We are none the wiser at telling apart chavista spin or propaganda from reality. And it has to be said, Chavez is a master of media manipulation, and fools local with the same ease than seasoned and reputable foreign media.

  10. So for what it’s worth, La Vinotinto lost yesterday to EL Salvador 2-1.

    However, we had all B-teamers and EL Salvador brought most of their A-team. We scored first, dominated the game until the 80th minute.

    After an own goal tied it up, the Salvatrucos scored in the 90th minute to seal the game.

    There were about 300 Vintotinto fans in the crowd, and about 7 thousand Salvadoreans rooting for their team. Nonetheless we had the best fans, the prettiest women and the better drum section!

    Overheard from Salvadoran fans after the Vinotinto scored: “Chavez, Chavez, Chavez” (As in booo!!!!)


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