Final Score: Dominican Republic 9, Venezuela 3
World Baseball Conflict of the Game: Hugo Chavez cuts off oil supply to the DR in 2003
The shadow of Hugo “Eric” Chavez loomed large over this game. A titan of Latin American politics, Chavez was an admired but flawed and kind of crazy leader. His long presidency was marred by such scandals as the kidnapping of Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos and also some other stuff.
A turning point in the reign of Chavez was the coup of 2002, in which he was briefly removed from power before leveraging his popular support to recover it. In the aftermath of the coup, Chavez was naturally paranoid about who had been involved in the attempt to get rid of him. One of the places at which he pointed his chubby finger was none other than the Dominican Republic.
In 2003, Chavez cut off Venezuela’s oil supply to the DR in retaliation for their supposed involvement. The move was a serious blow to the Dominican economy, and it was years before Venezuela-Dominican Republic relations “recovered.”
But they never truly recovered. For years, Dominicans let their resentment towards Chavez fester, mutating into a deep-seated hatred for the Venezuelan president. They bided their time, waiting for the opportunity to get their revenge. They kept biding. They bided some more. They thought about doing something, but then decided it was probably a bad idea. More biding. Years of biding.
They bided so long that Hugo Chavez died of natural causes. And only then did the Dominicans take the opportunity to strike, posthumously. They beat Chavez’s national baseball team, 9-3.
Hugo Chavez is dead, and the Venezuelan hopes at the World Baseball Classic are dying fast.