Security concerns stemming from mounting political unrest have caused organizers to move next week’s Caribbean Series from Venezuela to Panama.
Though Venezuelan Sports Minister Pedro Infante pleaded for the series to take place as scheduled in Barquisimeto, the international baseball tournament will instead begin will begin at Rod Carew National Stadium in Panama City on February 4.
Since opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido defied President Nicolas Maduro and declared himself interim president, violent street protests have been taking place in the South American nation.
Prior to the series being moved, the U.S. government and Major League Baseball sent out notices advising players to avoid traveling to Venezuela in the wake of the violent protests.
“From the time Barquisimeto was chosen, we though that Venezuela was apt to put this event together, but we also tried to line up alternative sites in case of any kind of trouble,” Caribbean Federation president Juan Francisco Puello Herrera told MLB.com. “When we looked at the situation, and although a lot of countries came to us with options, we chose Panama because it offers a lot of advantages at this time.”
This is the second straight year the series, which features the winter league champions from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, has been moved from Barquisimeto.