Not counting the Guyanas and Surinam, there is only one country in South America that has never been to a World Cup: Venezuela. Considering that I love football so much, and that South America indeed is the powerhouse of football passion, it may seem ironic that I have recently moved to Venezuela.
Its special history and closer links to the Caribbean and the US, made that the main sport in Venezuela became baseball. It remains so, and Venezuelans are as passionate as any fan when the local baseball teams are playing. This surely contributed greatly to the fact that playing Venezuela was always a sure win for any team in the World Cup qualifiers and Copa America. Following the increased popularity of football in other baseball-crazed countries like Japan and the US, football also became more popular in the second half of the 1990s, with the national team becoming more competitive. By now, Venezuela is a team that all teams consider playing: in 2008 they defeated Brazil for the first time ever (in a friendly match) and for the 2010 qualifiers Venezuela had quite an amazing run, among other things defeating Ecuador in Quito, and ending only three points from what would have been a qualifying spot. The team has a core of talented players who have excellent experience from foreign clubs.
And it does seem that things are going in the right direction: youth teams are under development, and Venezuela recently played their first World Cup ever, the U-21 World Cup, eliminating the defending world champions of Argentina, and making it to the quarterfinals of the tournament! Since I have a good karma on the football of the countries I live in, I expect to see Venezuela do even better!