U.S.: Chavez comments par for the course

August 12, 2009

He’s driven Exxon out of his country and suggested former U.S. President George W. Bush was the devil incarnate.

But Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez really teed off the State Department with his latest outrage — calling golf a bourgeois sport.

“My position, independent of what anyone else thinks, is that it’s a bourgeois sport,” the baseball-loving Chavez told his weekly television audience in July.

GOLF-OPEN/“There is no justification for having a golf course in the middle of a city, when there is such a shortage of land for housing for the people, including the middle class.”

Since his comments, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, pro-Chavez officials have moved to close two of Venezuela’s best-known golf courses — in Maracay and Caraballeda.

This did not go unnoticed by U.S. diplomats.

“As the Department of State’s self-appointed ambassador-at-large for golf,  I wish to protest the unwarranted attack by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on the game of golf,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said at the start of Wednesday’s briefing.

And he was just warming to the theme.

He pointed to Angel Cabrera, who grew up on the streets of Argentina and won this year’s Masters. And to the man he defeated, Kenny Perry, who once had to borrow money from a church friend to keep playing.

VENEZUELA/Then there was virtual unknown Lucas Glover winning the U.S. Open, and Tom Watson coming oh-so-close to taking the British Open at the age of 59.

And Tiger Woods, of course.

Said Crowley: “Considering that the hemisphere celebrated the victory of (a) former caddy and son of Argentina in the Masters over a good-old-boy who built a public course in his hometown in Kentucky, and we cheered as a relative unknown from South Carolina won the peoples’ open on the country’s finest public course at Bethpage Black. We were in awe as a 59-year-old man held off the greatest golfers of the world for 71 holes on links land in Scotland, where the game of golf was created. And now we are on the eve of the season’s final major where the favorite to win is arguably the greatest golfer of all time and whose heritage literally spans continents.”

“So the suggestion by Mr. Chavez that golf, a truly global sport, is bourgeois, is a mulligan. And once again, Mr. Chavez, one of the hemisphere’s most divisive figures, finds himself out of bounds.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Russell Cheyne (Angel Cabrera at British Open July 19); Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins (Chavez bats in a softball game in January)

One comment

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Why not use baseball stadiums around the country for public housing too??? He likes baseball so it’s all cool. He doesn’t like golf so it’s the enemy’s sport. Typical Hugo Chavez madness.

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