Diplomacy at the End of a Stick
Well, if you have been reading this blog for any length of time you know that I have a special place in my heart for the baseball-mad Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its idiosyncratic, coffee-swilling leader. It has been awhile since we last checked in but let me tell you, it never gets quiet down there.
For instance, just yesterday El Presidente had the national assembly allow a referendum that, if passed, would let him stand for unlimited terms as president. To put it in other terms, he’s basically a more rotund and more friendly with Iran version of Michael Bloomberg. But really, can you fault a guy for trying? Who knows how many terms FDR would have served if he wouldn’t have croaked in office.
There is also some other sad news out of Caracas. The Cleveland Indians’ Venezuelan scouting supervisor died in a car crash Sunday night while on his way to a baseball showcase. Now, I have no love for the Indians and I have to admit that my first thought upon reading this was that it was a great opportunity for the Tigers to make their move.
However, I’ve said it before and I truly believe that baseball is one area that the US has not exploited enough in its diplomatic efforts. Although not as popular as soccer, it is a uniquely American sport that has come to be enjoyed and even dominated by southern neighbors we haven’t always treated so well. Is there a better way to illustrate the American Dream in Latin America than by sending previously indigent kids out as ambassadors to show how they have succeeded in the United States?
So, even as the Bolivarian Revolution seeks to institutionalize itself and continues to demonize the US, it’s nice to know that guys like Henri Centeno are out there bringing the American Dream to life for a few kids and proving that maybe we aren’t so bad after all.