Venezuelan baseball season should be cancelled, manager says

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Alcides Escobar #2 of Venezuela throws to first after tagging out Rob Segedin #21 of Italy in the bottom of the eighth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool D Game 7 between Venezuela and Italy at Panamericano Stadium on March 12, 2017 in Zapopan, Mexico.Image source, Getty Images
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Baseball is Venezuela's most popular sport

Venezuela's baseball season should be cancelled due to the country's ongoing crisis, a leading coach has said.

"There should be no baseball season this year," Alfredo Pedrique, a former Major League Baseball player, said during a radio interview.

He said he had seen people eating out of rubbish bins, and cited the "number of children who are dying because of the lack of food and medicine".

Pedrique said it was a humanitarian issue, not a political one.

The baseball coach appealed to the team owners in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League (LVBP) to support his call "out of respect for the Venezuelans who are sacrificing their lives for the freedom of this country, for the benefit of all".

Baseball is Venezuela's most popular sport - outdoing football, unlike many of its neighbours in South America.

The call comes days after Venezuela lost the right to host the 2018 Caribbean Series tournament, which will now be played in Mexico instead.

Tournament organisers did not specify a reason, but Venezuela has been hit by consistent political instability and street protests for months, which have led to dozens of deaths.

Image source, Reuters
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Continuing protests have led to dozens of deaths and accusations of human rights breaches

Angry demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro, which have taken place on an almost daily basis since April, show no sign of abating.

The opposition claims Mr Maduro's government has severely damaged the country's economy, and is calling for early elections.

The government has blamed the opposition for the violence at the protests saying it uses teenagers and children as "cannon fodder".