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Marlins Elect Not to Recognize Death of Hugo Chavez Before Game vs. Venezuela

Mar 3, 2013; Jupiter, FL, USA; Miami Marlins players line up during the national anthem before a spring training game against the New York Mets at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIMarch 5, 2013

The Miami Marlins played an exhibition game Tuesday against Team Venezuela, which is set to take part in the World Baseball Classic, and recently deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was not remembered with a moment of silence before the contest.

As CNN’s Mariano Castillo and Osmary Hernandez reported on Tuesday, Chavez died after a lengthy battle with cancer. The South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Craig Davis reported the following on the exhibition in Miami: 

A Marlins spokesman said all parties involved in the exhibition, including Major League Baseball, agreed to not have the moment of silence for Chavez, which was requested by a representative of the Venezuelan team.

The Venezuelan flag in the stadium was lowered to half staff for a few minutes, then raised again.

Chavez became a polarizing figure after ascending to the presidency in 1999. He attracted negative attention in the United States due to his extreme criticism of George W. Bush, including an incident when he called the former U.S. president “the devil” in front of the United Nations General Assembly.

But his domestic policies were equally as divisive, with Castillo and Hernandez's report noting that his suppression of media and other branches of the Venezuelan government led to accusations that he was running a dictatorial regime. 

CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet and Dana Ford noted that Chavez’s death was met with wildly different reactions in his home country, with some Venezuelans taking to the street to mourn publicly and others actively avoiding these demonstrations, suggesting their disapproval of the late president.

Due to Chavez’s controversial nature as a political figure, Major League Baseball, the Miami Marlins and Team Venezuela were in a predicament over how to deal with his death.

Ultimately, the compromise of a subdued acknowledgment of Chavez’s passing was a wise way to ensure that an exhibition baseball game did not end up in the middle of a contentious political issue.  

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