Guaros’ Unbearable Sorrow of a World Cup in Time of Crisis

Venezuela battles a crisis of majestic proportions. Nevertheless, the World Cup is here! Does it represent a breath of fresh air or a reminder of everything we’ve lost?

Original Art by ModoGráfico

Waiting four years to comfortably enjoy the most important soccer event on the planet is a delight of the past for us guaros. The country’s economic situation has prevented soccer fans from fully enjoying the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup. The tradition of buying posters, team flags, shirts or the famous Panini album has gone from being a distraction to an ordeal.

The stores where we used to find those items don’t offer them anymore. You can find shirts from different teams in the Adidas shop in Sambil Barquisimeto shopping mall, but they cost Bs. 46,000,000, or about $14 at the current rate, an unpayable amount for most.

Looking for the Panini album in Barquisimeto strikes as an Indiana Jones quest; and if you find it, filling it is nigh on impossible. The album alone costs a whole minimum wage, and packs of stickers are above the million bolivars, so a kid lucky enough to buy the album would need quite a few minimum wages to fill it.

Waiting four years to comfortably enjoy the most important soccer event on the planet is a delight of the past for us guaros.

Most Barquisimetanos don’t have satellite TV signal to enjoy all the matches, considering that national and regional TV channels don’t have the rights to broadcast all 64 games. An alternative is going to Plaza de la Justicia, where the Iribarren Municipality Mayor’s Office put up a giant high definition screen and a powerful sound system. You can enjoy the game there, in case you have cash and manage to sort out the transport issues that prevent you from getting there. Keep in mind that only 5% of the public transport fleet is operational in the city, the only ones working are the “rutachivos”.

Photo: Rosénder Evíes

…Or you can go to Las Trinitarias shopping mall far east of the city, where you can have a good time, albeit a bit restrained if you want to drink or eat something, due to high prices.

Photos: Luis Daniel Cambero  

It’s important to point out that during the last World Cup, Brazil 2014, we had at least ten places in Barquisimeto to enjoy the World Cup. The restaurants Rodeo and Dr. Grill, Cines Unidos and Cinex, La Flor de Venezuela and the Sambil and Metrópolis shopping malls are a few examples. This time, the matches are broadcast in public squares due to the high cost of remodelling for the Cup and renting the technical equipment.

Despite the difficulties, every game becomes an escape.

Despite the difficulties, every game becomes an escape that lets us forget for 90 minutes about the tough economic reality we’ve had to endure. June and July were usually idle months, but in the end we’re all thinking the same thing: what are we going to eat? Any activity that doesn’t involve food has been pushed aside.

“Soccer is the most important thing, out of all unimportant things,” they say, and it’s true that Venezuelans wish to reclaim the tradition of enjoying the World Cup among friends, hopeful that one day we’ll cheer for our own national team, La Vinotinto in Qatar 2022 —with a new Venezuela, and new hopes.