- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

MIAMI (AP) - Magglio Ordonez received a mix of boos and cheers from Venezuela fans Monday night at the World Baseball Classic.

The Detroit Tigers slugger, one of his country’s biggest baseball stars, infuriated many Venezuelans recently by backing a constitutional amendment to end term limits for President Hugo Chavez.

Ordonez was booed repeatedly by anti-Chavez Venezuela fans during Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Netherlands. Many in the crowd cheered loudly when he struck out in the fourth inning.

He was booed again Monday during pregame introductions and his first at-bat against Puerto Rico, though this time there were shouts of support as well.

“I don’t regret anything,” Ordonez said before the game when he was asked if he was sorry he’d taken part in television spots backing the constitutional amendment, which passed on Feb. 15.

Most Venezuelans in South Florida oppose the left-leaning Chavez and his socialist beliefs, but polls _ and repeated election results _ show most support him at home.

Saturday’s catcalls became a political issue back in Venezuela. Chavez even referred to the incident on his Sunday radio and television broadcast, saying, “Everyone has the right to think about politics.”

“Viva Magglio and all our compatriots!” Chavez said after reading a story about the boos in Miami by The Associated Press.

Ordonez called President Chavez’s support “an honor,” but said he was shrugging off the controversy.

“I carry the name of Venezuela on my chest. I’ve turned that page. Those are things that can’t be controlled,” he said. “It’s an honor for me to represent my country.”

Some fans seemed to be putting it in the past as well. There were cheers among the boos for Ordonez on Monday and fans leaned over the Venezuela dugout before the game pleading for his autograph.

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