MIAMI -- Magglio Ordonez was booed unmercifully by his Venezuelan countrymen here during his country's 3-1 victory over the Netherlands. Ordonez said he's a target for his well-known support of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, but the Detroit Tigers star also said he will not change his views or hide his support.
"No,'' Ordonez said when asked if he might tone down his support for the unpopular leader.
"He got elected by popular vote,'' Ordonez told SI.com. "If you don't like Chavez ... go vote.''
Ordonez also said that the booing only came from "a small percentage'' of his countrymen, those who support the other political party.
"It's not the reality of Venezuela,'' he said.
Ordonez said he was not surprised to be booed by his countrymen here. But that doesn't mean he was happy about it, especially here in Miami, where he has a home. He supposedly bought numerous tickets for friends and family, but those supporters could hardly be heard. The reaction to him contrasted sharply with the positive response Venezuela teammates Bobby Abreu, Miguel Cabrera and others received.
"I love everyone. But that's not respecting the country,'' Ordonez said. "We've got to respect each other.'' Ordonez said he appreciated the support he got from a few teammates who came off the bench to try to quiet down the vociferous fans.
Earlier, Ordonez explained the situation in a formal interview with all the media members, saying, "Here in Miami, you have a whole host of Venezuelans who live here and they're against the government, and I support the government. So that's why they boo me, they heckle me, they criticize me, because I made a personal decision. I am not really hurting anyone. I am just here to help my team win and take the championship banner to Venezuela. But that's not the reality in my country.
"There are a lot of people in my country who love me,'' Ordonez continued. "I don't have any grudge against them. I think they're not very well informed. I was ready for all that, so actually it didn't affect me at all.
"We're going forward. We're going to have Venezuela up high, and we're going to win this championship.''