Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez endorsed Barack Obama’s candidacy for re-election in the U.S. presidential campaign.
"If I were American, I'd vote for Obama," Chavez said in a televised interview that was broadcast on Sunday.
Calling Obama a “good guy,” Chavez also said that if Obama was Venezuelan, "I think ... he'd vote for Chavez."
On a more serious note, Chavez said: "I wish we could begin a new period of normal relations with the government of the United States.”
Despite tense relations between Caracas and Washington, the U.S. remains the top buyer of Venezuelan crude oil. But the U.S. has not had an ambassador in Venezuela since July 2010, when Chavez rejected nominee Larry Palmer, leading to Washington cancelling the visa of the Caracas envoy to the U.S.
Chavez is facing his own presidential campaign – dogged by concerns about his health, the Socialist is seeking re-election to another six-year term in elections which will be decided by this weekend.
He faces off against rival Henrique Capriles, who has promised wholesale changes in Venezuelan foreign policy, including a move away from Russia, China and Iran.
"The foreign policy of this [Chavez] government is driven by politics -- to extend a revolution worldwide,” Capriles said at a campaign stop.
“My objective with regards to foreign relations is to benefit all Venezuelans.”
Capriles also said he would cancel an arms deal with Moscow and review Venezuela’s oil exploration policies.
"We have spent more than $14 billion on arms purchases from Russia," Capriles said. "I am not going to buy more weapons. I think the policy has been mistaken."
Regarding huge oil development deals with Russia and China, Capriles declared: "We have to revise every deal. I think they are agreements that are not functioning.”
He also questioned Chavez’ friendly ties with certain rogue nations.
"How have relations with Iran and Belarus benefited Venezuela?,” he asked rhetorically.
“We are interested in countries that have democracies, that respect human rights, that we have an affinity with. What affinity do we have with Iran?"
Polls suggest the race in Venezuela will be extremely close, but Capriles is confident he will win.
"I believe there will be no violence," he said.
"Venezuelans have a deep democratic conviction. If the government hotheads ventured out to stir violence they would encounter the armed forces. I don't believe the armed forces respond to a political party."
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