CARACAS, Venezuela, Wednesday October 3, 2012 – With presidential elections imminent in both his own country and the United States, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has had his say on the US presidential race, expressing a firm preference for President Barack Obama.
“If I were American, I’d vote for Obama,” Chavez declared in an interview on the Venezuelan television channel Televen.
President Chavez referred to Obama as “a good guy” and said if the US president were a Venezuelan, “I think he’d vote for Chavez.”
The Venezuelan leader is running for re-election, seeking another six years in office in Sunday’s October 7 vote. Obama faces Republican Mitt Romney in his re-election bid next month.
Venezuela and the United States have had tense relations for several years, even though the US remains the largest buyer of oil from the South American country.
“I wish we could begin a new period of normal relations with the government of the United States,” Chavez said in the televised interview that aired on Sunday.
Chavez and Obama shook hands at a 2009 summit, but relations have subsequently cooled.
The United States Embassy in Caracas has been without an ambassador since July 2010, with Chavez rejecting Washington’s nominee for ambassador, Larry Palmer, and accusing him of making disrespectful remarks about Venezuela’s government.
In return, Washington revoked the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador to the United States.