Henrique Capriles is the voice of Venezuelan capitalism. Facing the heavy odds of Nicolas Maduro's fierce, Chavez-themed campaign backed by limitless government funds, Capriles has actually become much of what Chavez wanted to be back in the 90's: a revolutionary fighting the establishment.
What will Capriles' capitalist revolution bring? Hopefully, a strong free market with plenty of guarantee for foreign investors, but also a solid net of positive Chavez-era welfare policies. Yes, it's incredible, but there are some things that Chavez implemented which are actually helping the country. Capriles would like to leave those the way they are.
But one more drop of oil to Cuba? Not so much. Capriles has made it clear that if he's president, Cuba's free oil ride stops. And that's where things start to get … revolutionary.
You see, Cuba and Venezuela's economies are interlaced. This is now the norm. Venezuela's oil has been traded for Cuban doctors and other government workers for years, and yes, Cuba uses a lot of Venezuelan oil. Cuba's also not alone in this dilemma. Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina are just a few of the countries that benefit from Venezuela's revolutionarily cheap gas prices (4 cents a gallon, and not going up anytime soon).
And although chavistas like to brag about their independence from the evil U.S. empire, 60% of Venezuela's total exports are just oil coming to the U.S. In fact, 10% of our oil is Venezuelan.
Nevertheless, Capriles' plan for Venezuela includes a 40% increase in minimum salary and it's not hard to see how he plans to do it: make Venezuela safe again for investment.
But Capriles knows it will be difficult. Polls are already looking unfavorable, but the opposition leader has maintained a brave face against Maduro's pithy exploitation of Chavez's image. "The people didn't vote for you, boy," he told Maduro at a press conference in which he accused the bus-driver-turned-president of taking power unconstitutionally.
Capriles became governor of the state of Miranda after he defeated the current National Assembly leader Diosdado Cabello, also a second-in-command to Chavez and an influential chavista leader. The opposition candidate has plenty of experience facing uphill battles against Chavez's government and, though victory seems unlikely, Capriles knows it won't be over.
Because assuming that Capriles loses (which will probably happen), he's there to stay. He will only continue to gather momentum against a regime that will be in steady decline. Maduro's unqualified leadership will inevitably take a toll on the people's patience and, yes, that includes some of the lower class folks as well.
So, is Capriles a revolutionary? In context, yes. However, Capriles' enemies view him as a return of that capitalist establishment, and they're not wrong either. That establishment can be good. The free market can aid for proper growth and development in the country. What the system needs is responsibility.
Capriles hopes to be for Venezuela what Luiz Lula did for Brazil, transform it into a nation open to the world's prosperity. If he manages that, I would call it a revolutionary change. If not, and assuming he doesn't get assassinated the way young, revolutionary leaders do, then he'll at least be there to remind Venezuela of all that could've been.