Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Rodonski said on Monday that if he wins the presidential election on April 14, he will stop sending 100,000 barrels a day of oil to Cuba and other countries in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). “Not one more drop of oil will go to help finance the Castro regime,” Capriles said at a political rally in the Zulia state.
Capriles went on to criticize Hugo Chávez’s successor and current interim president, Nicolás Maduro, as “Raúl Castro’s candidate,” and said that Havana is just using Venezuela to buoy the Castro regime. Capriles’ comments come in stark contrast to those of his opponent, Maduro, who has pledged Venezuela’s ongoing political and economic support for Cuba, saying his government will “remain firm” on the issue. In return, Cuba sends 40,000 doctors and other professionals to Venezuela.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) set the April 14 date for the election due to a clause in the constitution that requires the election to be called 30 days after the death of the sitting president. Capriles lost to Chávez in last October’s general election by 11 percentage points, and will be looking to remobilize his base in the coming weeks. However, chavista control over Venezuela’s political infrastructure and media, coupled with an outpouring of support following Chávez’ death, have given Maduro a 14-percentage point lead over his opponent, according to the first major poll published in anticipation of the election.