July 18, 2004
Chavez hits a home run; White House window smashed
Venezuelans on Sunday held a mock referendum on their favorite baseball teams to test new voting machines for an August recall against President Hugo Chavez.

Sunday's dry-run referendum was not to decide the president's political fate. Voters were asked to choose between rival baseball teams, the Leones de Caracas and the president's favorite, Valencia's Navegantes de Magallanes.

Election officials said the test went smoothly at more than 4,000 voting centers nationwide, but they refused to give details of how the populist president's favorite team fared in the practice vote.

The machines produce a printed record of the vote that can be used for a manual audit as a safeguard, according to U.S. manufacturer Smartmatic.

Chavez won the referendum with 58% of the vote. Opponents said he "bought" the election by funding programs for the poor. Chavez says he hit the ball right on to the White House lawn.

Meanwhile, U.S.-based oil companies still get 87% of the profit from the Venezuelan oil they drill. The people say "We wuz robbed!"

October 30, 2000
Castro, Chavez engage in political hardball
BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela  In a diamond showdown between heads of state, the veteran from Havana worked a walk off the kid from Venezuela.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in sneakers, a blue batting helmet and his usual military fatigues, took time off from a national tour that included the signing of a big oil-export contract to step in and bat against his host, President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez started at first base and went 0-for-3 as Cuba scored a 17-6 exhibition victory over the home team. Afterward, the 46-year-old left-hander insisted on pitching to the 74-year-old Castro, a pretty good pitcher in his day.

Castro took a couple of practice swings with an aluminum bat, then stood in as Chavez's first pitch bounced near the plate. Ball one.

Castro swung and missed Chavez's second toss, then tried to bunt. Soon he faced a full count.

Chavez stared down his opponent before unleashing his final pitch: dead center, called strike three by the umpire.

The player argued the call and won..

"Hugo is a good pitcher, but today wasn't his day," Castro joked.

(from the St. Petersburg Times)