Love him or hate him, you have to agree that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has an entertaining tactic for dealing with the shortcomings of his socialist government. Usually, he pulls out the good old “U.S. plot to destabilize the country” card, but every once in a while, he gives spectators more colorful explanations.
Like this week, when he took to blaming the World Cup for the airline crisis that has been plaguing his country over the last few months. Amid ongoing clashes between student protesters and government officials, it has come to light that Venezuela has kept an estimated $4.2 billion belonging to foreign airlines from leaving the country, prompting many to stop flights to the South American nation altogether until they receive payments.
Previously, Maduro had blamed “bourgeois” news media for spreading lies about the reasons that flights have been stopped. But this week, he took to state television to tell that it wasn’t Venezuela’s fault - it was the carriers who have been adjusting flight schedules to meet demand for soccer fans visiting neighboring Brazil for the World Cup tournament.
"Some European airlines have reprogrammed their flights during the World Cup," Maduro proclaimed to the nation. "They're diverting flights to Brazil."
Which is only made more interesting because of the fact that one day earlier, the Venezuelan government declared that it would raise the price of all international flights by 350 percent to help pay the owed money to the airlines, and help get things back to normal.
Also complicating Maduro’s World Cup claim is the Venezuelan Airlines Association, which announced on the same day that they would start making small payments to several airlines in hopes of resolving the issue.
"This is an important week," said ALAV President Humberto Figuera. "It's the start of a solution to this grave problem which has had an enormous impact on Venezuela's connectedness … [But] there is no certainty in this. If these payments are not made, we will end up in the same situation."
Ahhh, Maduro. You and Chavez’s ghost clearly know exactly what is going on in your country. But next time, stick to blaming the Americans. It might sound more credible than blaming an event that is still weeks away for your country’s problems.
Speaking of Chavez’s ghost and soccer in the same breath, we can’t help but direct your attention to this video, where “the hand of Chavez” saved Venezuela from a Colombian goal last year.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.