presidents facing tight re-election fights, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez gave
a surprise endorsement to Barack Obama on Sunday - and said the U.S.
leader no doubt felt the same.
"I hope this doesn't harm
Obama, but if I was from the United States, I'd vote for Obama," the
socialist Chavez said of a man he first reached out to in 2009 but to
whom he has since generally been insulting.
Chavez is running for a new six-year term
against opposition challenger Henrique Capriles, while Obama seeks
re-election in November against Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Venezuela's election is next weekend.
is a good guy ... I think that if Obama was from Barlovento or some
Caracas neighbourhood, he'd vote for Chavez," the president told state
TV, referring to a poor coastal town known for the African roots of its
Chavez is one of the
world's most strident critics of Washington and his 14 years in office
have been characterized by diplomatic spats and insults at the White
He called former U.S.
President George W. Bush a "drunk" and the "devil." After an initial
overture to Obama came to nothing, he said the new president had
disappointed progressives the world over and was the "shame" of
But Chavez was back in a conciliatory mood in a TV interview with friend and former vice president Jose Vicente Rangel.
our triumph and the supposed, probable triumph of President Obama, with
the extreme right defeated here and there, I hope we could start a new
period of normal relations with the United States," he said.
recently said something very rational and fair ... that Venezuela is no
threat to the interests of the United States," he added.
coming to office, Chavez has projected himself as the head of a global
"anti-imperialist" movement inspired by his friend and ideological
mentor Fidel Castro of Cuba.
with Washington improved briefly after Obama took office in January
2009 and promised more engagement with Latin America. Chavez toned down
his tirades against the "Yankee empire" and shook hands with the new
U.S. leader at a summit.
months later, he accused Obama of sticking to Bush's foreign policies
and capitalist agenda, and the tirade against the United Sates began
Despite the ideological
gulf between Washington and Caracas, both sides take a pragmatic
approach when it comes to business, with OPEC member Venezuela remaining
the United States' fourth biggest crude supplier.
رحــــمــــــــك الله أماه