The New York Times

Chávez Loyalists Push to Close Golf Courses
The New York Times

President Hugo Chávez’s political movement has found a new target: golf.

After a brief tirade against the sport by the president on national television last month, pro-Chávez officials have moved in recent weeks to shut down two of the country’s best-known golf courses, in Maracay, a city of military garrisons near here, and in the coastal city of Caraballeda.

“Let’s leave this clear,” Mr. Chávez said during a live broadcast of his Sunday television program. “Golf is a bourgeois sport,” he said, repeating the word “bourgeois” as if he were swallowing castor oil. Then he went on, mocking the use of golf carts as a practice illustrating the sport’s laziness.

Critics of the antigolf campaign point out that Venezuela’s top ally, Cuba, is going in the opposite direction. Canadian and European investors are seeking to build as many as 10 new courses in Cuba as part of the Cuban government’s bid to raise tourist revenues.

“China has more than 300 golf courses, and look what’s happening here,” said Mr. Torres, the director of the Venezuelan Golf Federation, invoking another Communist country with which Venezuela has warm ties. “We’re going from 28 courses to 18.”