Hard Times for Venezuelan Athletes

by | March 4, 2016, 10:26am 1

These are hard times for athletes in my country. Why? Because my country is Venezuela and something as simple as paying 300 dollars for a player fee is a nightmare.

Here’s a look at life as a traveling athlete in Venezuela: the government has something called “exchange control” and a foreign currency acquisition commission who decides whether or not any Venezuelan citizen is eligible to have the opportunity to exchange our national currency into any other. Sounds pretty absurd, doesn’t it?

The price of exchange is incredibly low, because the government regulates it, but there are also strict limits on the amounts that people can exchange. This control has also been a breeding ground for all sorts of practices which I can only label as the darker shades of grey in a moral society. Consequences of these actions have only brought a tighter grip on the requirements demanded before you can exchange our bolivares into dollars (or any other currency). It also has grown a thriving black market, where presently dollars are sold at 100 times the regulated government price.

So how exactly does this affect athletes who dream at playing in the upcoming World Ultimate and Guts Championships in London?

We need to trade our currency into dollars to pay for the player fees, which are 200 GBP (~285 USD) per person. We have tried to trade them at the regulated price, which is 11 bolivares per dollar, but it is impossible by government rules which dictate that we can only exchange if we have travel arrangements to another country and we can only access the funds in the foreign country of destination when our plane has landed. That means that in order for us to trade currencies, we would have to exchange on4 the black market, which means paying 100 times the regulated price.

The minimum wage in Venezuela is around 10000 bolivares, that means that a month’s wage can only be exchanged for 10 dollars in the black market. That means that the average Venezuelan would have to work for 30 months before making the amount needed to pay the player fee using the black market. If we could trade through the regulated price, it would only amount to one third of an average person’s salary. Unfortunately, the Venezuelan team is finding this nearly impossible.

So, we now find ourselves in the delicate situation of asking the community to help us with any donation, no matter how small. We just need enough to pay our player fees in time and ensure our participation in London. Everything else, including our trip and expenses will be paid by exchanging at the moment of travel through the government’s currency acquisition commission.

Our crowdfunding campaign is here:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/venezuela-al-mundial-de-ultimate-frisbee/x/13432524#/

We appreciate all your help, even if it’s a few dollars and a share.

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  • John Titcomb

    David, I contributed to the Indiegogo campaign. Hope to see you all in London.