La Vinotinto hitches a ride

0acd55ba-3307-4cfa-a2e8-28a0e5f6bd41The national football team (a.k.a. La Vinotinto) returned to the country yesterday after its first-round elimination of the 2015 Copa America held in Chile. But the way back home for most of the Vinotinto players (some left Chile on their own) and crew was more complicated than expected.

Sports newspaper Meridiano reports that the original plan was for the team to come back on a commercial flight Monday, but that plan was scrapped. Finally, the Venezuelan State provided them with an aircraft to make a charter flight back to Maiquetia International Airport, where Sports Minister Pedro Infante (whose motorcade was attacked last weekend by criminals at the Cota 905) welcomed them.

The Venezuelan Air Force didn’t sent any ordinary plane, but what seems to be our presidential plane: the Airbus A319CJ bought by the late Hugo Chavez back in 2002, replacing the old Boeing 737 (known as “El Camastrón”).

His successor, Nicolas Maduro said in 2013 that the Airbus A319 had a “grave anomaly” in one of its wings, which he found as curious given that the plane stayed five months in Europe for an overhaul. Maduro considered then the idea of suing Airbus and even thought the possibility of buying a new aircraft for him. The following year, the central government announced that they would sell the Airbus in order to buy new planes for State flag carrier Conviasa.

In the meantime, Maduro travels abroad either by planes of Conviasa or by borrowing an Ilyushin Il-96 from Cubana de Aviacion. The Il-96 also happens to be the aircraft used by his buddy Vladimir Putin as his own Air Force One.

In the end, Maduro didn’t sell the plane, buy a new one nor sued Airbus. Even if the presidential livery is gone, the Airbus A319CJ seems to be working just fine. So, the question is why he still doesn’t want to use it. So, who knows…

This incident highlights another issue: The way the Venezuelan Federation (FVF) handled all prior preparations for the Copa America, both financially and logistically. Some sports commentators think these problems affected the Vinotinto. For example, the team didn’t play any friendly matches before the tournament. Matter of fact, the planned match against Bolivia was called off hours before taking place in Argentina. Because Esquivel.

One last thing: According to the Real Academia Española (RAE), “camastrón” does not mean what we think it means. #TheMoreYouKnow

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.