Golf War: Chavismo Expropriates Caraballeda Course

With the partial takeover of a private golf course in Vargas State last week, the government’s long-forgotten war on golf is back on.

Vargas State Governor, Jorge Luis García Carneiro, announced last week that part of the Caraballeda Yacht & Golf Club would be expropriated (52,685 square meters, affecting hole three of its golf course), to build the first “educational city” in the country.

It came as a shock; as club board chairman, Manuel Matos, told César Miguel Rondón that the Vargas government “didn’t contact us in a serious, definitive manner” and this unilateral action is due to “the electoral climate, or to hide more important news”.

The Venezuelan Golf Federation (FVG) got involved right away by meeting the Vargas state solicitor for further information (the South American Golf Federation offered its solidarity too) and Venezuela’s most important pro-golfer, Jhonattan Vegas, expressed his indignation:

Vegas made history in 2011 by becoming the first Venezuelan to win a PGA Tour event, getting congratulations from the late comandante eterno himself. Chávez also said at the time: “I’m not an enemy of golf!”

And there’s a reason for that:

Two years earlier, during his weekly “Aló, Presidente”, Chávez strongly criticized golf with then Aragua State Governor Rafael Isea. The comandante complained about how the Hotel Maracay course could be used for other things: “Golf is a bourgeois sport… Can someone tell me if that’s a popular sport? It is not!”.

In 2006, however, there was an attempt to seize two golf courses in Caracas by then alcalde mayor Juan Barreto, “to build houses for the poor” and the central government disagreed with Barreto’s plan, forcing him to back down.

Golf seems to be an easy target for chavismo, who considers it as a sport for the rich despite its recent grow in popularity (including a return to the Olympics in Rio 2016). And although García Carneiro went a bit soft during a recent press conference, looks like the expropriation of Caraballeda Yacht & Golf Club could be larger than expected.

You know, because there aren’t more pressing concerns in today’s Venezuela.