Among the happiest people in Venezuela after President Maduroexpelled the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires and two other diplomats was Henrique Capriles, the principal opponent in the presidential election last April. The White House had put out public “feelers” toward improving relations just before Hugo Chavez’s death. The victory of Nicolas Maduro, hand picked by Chavez, made the earlier American move appear to be an unnecessary advantage to the new president in the eyes of his former opponent, Capriles.
From Henrique Capriles’s view Maduro benefited by the Americans’ short-sighted action even though there clearly was to be no change in the previous Chavista anti-U.S. policy. Maduro officials stepped up their charges that Capriles maintained regular communications with the U.S. and other Western embassy representatives. There was nothing new in these complaints that previously had been a staple of the Venezuelan government while Chavez was alive. What was new was that they had been pressed forward at all by the new Maduro regime.