From Sochi with love

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Boondoggles as non-traditional exports
Boondoggles as non-traditional exports

Now that we are done with the introductions and the sappy posts, let us get down to business.

I came across this viral article from the Washington Post that describes the hardships endured by sports journalists in their hotels while covering the Sochi Olympics. The tweets and pictures show unfinished facilities, incompetent personnel, pictures of Putin on nightstands (Andy Borowitz satirizes about this in The New Yorker), broken lifts, broken water mains, broken doors, and the money shot: “Please do not flush toilet paper down the toilet! Put it in the bin provided.”

Funny, though it hits a little too close to home. Sochi’s sporting mishaps pale when compared to our own.

Let us begin with this particularly interesting bit: “The Sochi Olympics have also run way over budget — to a record $51 billion — which seems particularly remarkable when you consider that some of the work isn’t actually done.” These Russians (or at least their cousins) are the same guys who went way over our budget trying to build the biggest clusterfuck of all guisos, the Mision Vivienda project at Fuerte Tiuna (Conejo Blanco), right in our backyard.

It is hard to laugh at the encumbrances of the good folks in crappy Sochi when you come across news like the “suspension” of the Windsurfing World Championship that was to be held at El Yaque (Margarita Island) in March 2014. According to a piece by El Nacional’s Enis Espinoza, the project was preapproved by Minister Alejandra Benitez in August 2013, and a couple of weeks ago CADIVI denied the required approvals.

Shortly after the appointment of Benitez —a 33-year-old fencing champion— as Sports Minister, she was caught in a corruption scandal inherited from her predecessor Hector Rodriguez. Benitez was compelled to make accusations regarding fraud and exchange crimes which involved several athletes and, of course, the people (such as Rodriguez himself) who happily approved projects for hundreds of millions of dollars obtained through CADIVI.

Alejandra Benitez did not survive the last Minister reshuffling. She was booted from the Ministry, and Rodriguez, after a couple of months in the doghouse (Ministry of Youth, that is), was rewarded with the Ministry of Education and the accompanying dauphin/intern-like aura previously held by Andrés Izarra (before the eso es lo que hay incident). Do the math.

So, anything that Alejandra Benitez touched probably stinks, and that is why CADIVI rejected the project, right? Nah, most likely the Central Bank ran out of Dollars.

Whatever the reason, this is sad news because the Venezuelan team is kinda the hot stuff in Windsurfing right now.

At least Russians have 50 billion lying around to pimp Sochi with low quality hotels and facilities and, maybe, attract some tourists. Come to think of it, attracting tourists to Venezuela may not be such a good idea.

1 COMMENT

  1. Raul, Your last sentence is worth highlighting (I could not open the link although I assume it relates to the recent murder of a German tourist in Margarita). I feel that it is even irresponsible to approve international competitions in Venezuela at this point, even assuming competitors would be willing to come. It is like throwing a big bash at your house and inviting lots of people when you know there are structural problems that can cause injuries to your guests.
    I know el Yaque is one of the premier wind surfing beaches in the world and the perfect place for the event from a sporting perspective, but, unlike a big event like the Olympics at Sochi or World Cup in Brazil, you really think Venezuela is going to spend any effort ramping up security in El Yaque? Something bad is bound to happen…

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