Motorcycle street freestyling, an improvised decision by Venezuela’s regime that could trigger more road accidents

Motorcycle street freestyling, an improvised decision by Venezuela’s regime that could trigger more road accidents


“Let’s always wear helmets and get the horses out of the streets,” says Jackson Patiño, a young motorbike rider who does “motorcycle pirouettes” on an improvised track in the ‘Aeropuerto Viejo’ neighborhood in Cumaná, capital of Sucre State, after Nicolás Maduro’s announcement that he declared “motopiruetismo” (motorcycle pirouettes) as a national sport.

Víctor Federico González // Correspondent

The decree was announced last Saturday, June 8th, from the facilities of the ‘Poliedro de Caracas’ during the 1st National Meet of ‘Motopiruetas’. “I am the president of the motopiruetas,” was part of what he stated.

He added in that speech that “we have to end discrimination, repression and any form of mistreatment of motorcycle riders. I declare and sign motopiruetas as the national sport of Venezuela.”

A responsible practice?

According to Darwin Parejo, vice president of the “Stunt La Nueva Cumaná” Motorcycle Pirueteros Association, it is not a new discipline. In an interview with the team, he commented that they have been operating in the Aeropuerto Viejo sector of the capital of Sucre for 14 months.

He explained that those who wish to practice in this place do not have to pay membership fees. However, they do not rule out establishing rules to finance themselves and cover expenses for future activities or competitions.

When asked about the announcement made by Maduro, he was grateful that this “discipline” had been taken into account and indicated that they have time doing social work and bringing “distractions” to different urban areas.



Parejo pointed out that they hope that after this announcement measures will be established that benefit the development of this “national sport.” In addition, he called for the permanent use of helmets and announced that they hope to visit communities to explain what this new “discipline” comprises.

Regarding the comments of people who dismiss this high-risk activity as a sport, he responded “we must consider it a sport, it is something new that we will work on and create to make it better every day, criticism cannot stop us.”

Likewise, he stated that they do not support performing pirouettes in streets and avenues, since he considers that there are spaces and tracks designated for these activities. In addition to Cumaná, in the Sucre State towns such as Casanay, Santa Fe, Güiria and Carúpano, some form of organization already existed, and they have even held local and regional events.

Is a decree enough?

For sociologist Showny Azar, the proposal “starts badly” because Nicolás Maduro is doing it. “The illegitimacy that he has and the unpopularity that he bears makes the announcement of the decree look more like something laughable and full of insecurity, and not something serious,” she said.

“The activity as such and the videos they released do not give it the seriousness any real sport deserves. Decreeing a sport like this is not a small thing, you also need the vision of expert athletes to be able to do something serious (…) I think it starts off quite badly, perhaps it could be rescued, but with a professionalization process. I don’t want to sound elitist, but any sport or career has to have its professionalization process. Otherwise it would be in anarchy,” Azar argued.

However, she considered that the sport could be redeemable to the extent that it is given “seriousness and transparency.” Although she warned that “it is clearly seen that this is not something serious and it has shown that its objective is to instrumentalize (use,abuse) that sector of the population.” She acknowledges that it is “interesting” to see how in the case of the motorbike riders in the state of Sucre they were already organizing without waiting for a decree.

“I think that responds to these new forms of association that we are seeing in Venezuela, due to the social and emmigration crisis. The social crisis has caused us all to isolate ourselves (…) but then people begin to create different associations through their own means or organizations to also begin to generate greater relational capital with other people who look like themselves or who are dedicated to same activity or have the same hobbies, I think that is positive.”

Regarding the possible instrumentalization of this sector of the population, she expressed that she could respond to the support that opposition leader María Corina Machado has received from motorbike riders in her different tours through all the regions of Venezuela.

“The Government has copied María Corina’s campaign by visiting the same states, and not only that, but also the way in which she speaks to the people who go to see her (…) Maybe it is a response to that and I also point out about instrumentalization to say that the Government uses a cause to specifically attract votes, but not necessarily because it is interested in a cause,” she stated while recalling the instrumentalization of older adults with the recent creation of the Great Grandparents of the Homeland Mission, while they collect pensions that are insufficient to cover their basic expenses.

In her opinion, this announcement contributes to the stigmatization of motorbike riders, taking into account that there is already a prejudice about them in general. “Apart from the number of motorbike vehicles that exist, I believe that the problem is not the quantity, but rather that traffic laws are not respected, in general, neither by the bikers nor by the other vehicles on the road (… ) So I believe that it does contribute to the stigma, in addition to the fact that it is associated with people with low resources, who can only perhaps choose to buy a motorcycle to survive and, in general, solve their livelihoods, that is, they buy a motorcycle to deliver or to commute, to transport their family.”

She added that another stigma that revolves around motorbike vehicles is related to the high levels of insecurity that were recorded in the national territory in 2016 or 2017. “Committing crimes and motorbikes were linked,” she said.

Investment and regulations

According to Lilian Romero, director of NGO Asotránsito, road safety in Venezuela is “non-existent,” since the roads are not safe “no matter how much they clean them and paint them yellow.”

Through a video published on her social network accounts, Romero pointed out that this activity had already existed in the national territory for at least two years and has been the cause of many road accidents.

Furthermore, she reflected that the economic resources that will be allocated to adapt spaces and tracks for motorcycle pirouettes in the different municipalities could be used to improve the roads for the benefit of all drivers. She also said that no comparison can be made with other sport disciplines.

Likewise, she warned that the numbers of motorcycle road accidents are increasing every day in the country. She argued that it is better to build driving schools so that all people receive training and thus reduce accidents, than to invest in schools to teach motorcycle pirouettes.

Regarding “discrimination,” she said that it is necessary to talk about the motorbike union in any case, because they are a vulnerable population as they do not have a regulation that establishes where they must circulate nor do they have social security that protects them.

She stated that she did not disagree with the decree and that her observations were due to the absence of the necessary legal basis and the current situation of road safety education.

It should be noted that NGO Asotránsito on social networks has warned about the public health problem that road accidents represent, because the injuries or deaths reported caused by this “discipline” directly impact the healthcare system.